I Have a Missing Tooth – Do I Need to Replace It?
If you lose a tooth – especially one that’s in the back of your mouth or another location that’s not obvious to others when you smile or talk – you may be tempted to think that you can simply get by without having to replace it. Yes, it might feel strange for a little while, but, “Hey, I’ll get used to it. And no one can see it anyway, right?” While that may be true to a degree, the reality is that choosing not to replace a missing tooth can have serious physical and mental consequences.
What are the Physical Consequences of Not Replacing a Missing Tooth?
While it may seem like no big deal at first, choosing to not replace a missing tooth can actually lead to long-term issues both inside and outside of your mouth.
Here’s what happens:
Over the course of time the teeth next to the tooth that you’re missing will shift toward each other in an attempt to “fill in the gap” left by the lost tooth. This process – which will most likely be completely unnoticeable to you as it’s happening – leads to a condition called malocclusion, which is a fancy dental term that simply means that your teeth are not aligned properly.
Malocclusion can cause serious dental issues, such as an overbite or crossbite, that can result in extra strain on your jaw, difficulty chewing food and, unfortunately, an increased risk of tooth decay. The treatment for malocclusion is typically braces, but can also involve surgery, which will likely end up being much more expensive than a replacing a single tooth would be. Add to that the increased risk of tooth decay and you could be looking at some serious problems down the road.
- Can result in not chewing your food properly, which can lead to digestive issues such as acid reflux and malnutrition from nutrients not be absorbed properly.
- Can cause bone loss along the jawline which leads to a “sagging” appearance around the mouth.
- Can cause bite problems when the upper and lower teeth no longer come together properly.
- Can result in deterioration of the teeth and gum tissue around the missing tooth.
- Can lead to a higher risk of infection and gum disease, which can affect not only your mouth, but other vital body functions as well.
There are Also Mental Consequences of Not Replacing a Missing Tooth?
Unfortunately, yes. Aside from the aforementioned physical effects, having a missing tooth can have negative mental consequences in both the short and long term, regardless of whether or not the missing tooth is noticeable to others.
Though unfair, society often casts a negative light on people with missing teeth. Just take a look at characters in movies who are supposed to be poor, downtrodden or unintelligent and chances are good that they have at least one tooth missing. And those perceptions from pop culture have a tendency to bleed into reality. This is especially true at a time when it seems like people can say just about anything they want, whether on social media or “reality” television.
But let’s say that you have “thick skin.” You’re the, “I don’t care what people think or say about me” type. Great! Quite honestly, the world could use a few more people like you! However, chances are good that you may still be negatively impacted mentally as a result of a missing tooth. Is it on your mind constantly? Are you noticing negative side-effects such as not being able to chew properly? Has your speech changed as a result of your missing tooth?
Even if you haven’t a care about the way others may perceive you, if you’re devoting thought and worry to your condition then you’re devoting too much mental focus on the problem. That focus and worry can wear down even the toughest of us over time.
And here’s the thing…
You have the power to change it!
Restoring Your Smile
The most common procedure to replace a missing tooth is a dental implant. Dental implants are made up of a titanium post which is then covered by a crown or denture.
The implant process typically takes about three months (from start to finish) and includes ample time for your mouth to adjust to the implant and to heal prior to the crown or denture being applied. The dental implant and the temporary crown can be applied on the same day, which allows you to return to your normal schedule of activities as the permanent crown is being made.
You have a new tooth that looks and feels just like the one you lost!
Dental implants are a smart investment of both your time and money, especially when you factor in the serious consequences (and additional cost!) associated with letting the situation go and not replacing the tooth you lost.
If you’d like more information about dental implants, we’ve devoted an entire section of our website to that topic alone. If you have questions about the implant process or are wondering if you’re a candidate, please contact us at any time by calling (781) 329-4545 and one of our friendly team members will be happy to cover the process with you, including flexible payment options.
Today is the perfect day to restore your smile!
Dr. Sveta Granovsky is a Dedham MA General & Cosmetic Dentist providing patients with trusted, caring, exceptional dentistry in Dedham Mass and the surrounding areas.
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