When a tooth becomes decayed or broken beyond repair, extraction is often necessary. Once a tooth is removed, it leaves a space. This space creates a problem for the way your teeth bite together. It is much like when a book is removed from a bookshelf and the books on either side tip into the gap. Because there is nothing left for the teeth above or below the space to bite on, those teeth will “super erupt” or grow into the space.
All of these adverse effects can create more issues than just a gap in your smile. Tooth loss can lead to bone loss in the area of the missing tooth and also around the surrounding teeth. Over time, the drifting and shifting will disrupt the way your teeth come together when you bite. In some cases, the bite disruption leads to problems with your jaw joint.
Because a tooth is missing, you lose some of your ability to chew food. In fact, for each tooth, you lose about 10% of your chewing ability. This can cause difficulty in chewing certain foods and can also put more stress from chewing forces on the remaining teeth.
There are also cosmetic concerns related to missing teeth. Due to shifts in your bite that can occur, you face may actually appear shorter. Also, the tissues of the cheek and face may sink into the spot where the tooth previously was located. Tooth loss can cause loss of self-esteem, especially if the space is visible when you speak or smile.
The best course of action is to replace missing teeth with implants, bridge, partials, or dentures. To find out what options are best for your dental condition, please call our office to schedule an exam.