Missing Teeth and You. What to know about missing teeth.
What are the effects of missing teeth?
Missing teeth can cause some pretty long lasting and severe effects on your mouth, jaw, facial structure etc., and because of this, a solution to the missing tooth problem should be implemented.
When you have an area in your mouth where there is no teeth, it creates a bit of a void, and one of the problems that occurs reminds me a bit of a vacuum. An empty space in your mouth tends to “draw in” teeth around it. For instance let’s say your third molar is missing. If the space there remains unfilled by anything the second molar, the tooth in front of where your third molar is, and teeth above it will be affected by it. The teeth on either side of the missing spot will start tending towards the empty space, either due to loss of bone or the pressure of chewing actually pushing those teeth into that space. The teeth above it start to become affected because the lower teeth are now misaligned. The tooth immediately above the missing tooth area may even start to come out of the jaw bone a bit because there is nothing under it to stop it.
Having a missing tooth causes that area (where the tooth is missing) in your jaw bone to, essentially, shrink, or deteriorate. Since it is no longer being used or stimulated, that area of jaw bone will do something called resorb. When I first found out about this it almost seemed like science fiction. It was so strange to me to think that your jaw bone actually deteriorates if not in use. Because of this, when teeth are missing, you’ll see a lot of bone loss after a time. This can get quite severe if left unchecked for a while. So much so that your bite can actually collapse. The structure of the face can actually change because of how much bone loss can occur. This website actually gives a pretty good breakdown of what occurs when you start experiencing bone loss from missing teeth.
Diet and Tooth Loss
Eating can become a bit more problematic the more missing teeth you have. For instance, try imagining finishing off a big steak with no back teeth to grind up the meat. How about trying to eat your favorite fruit (an apple for instance) without any front teeth? It’d be pretty difficult.
Digestive issues may also arise from the problem of missing teeth, as part of the digestive process is properly chewing your food. Chewing your food longer increases saliva in the mouth, the saliva has enzymes that help break down the food. Also, because of chewing, the surface area of the food increases, as well as breaking it down to much smaller particles, and your body can absorb and break it down that much easier. In fact there have been several studies done by the NCBI and NIH on tooth loss and nutrition, found here.
What to do?
Aside from the preventative approach to tooth loss (good dental hygiene and steady dentist visits), there are solutions to tooth loss. These range from getting dental implants to getting a bridge to fill a void along your teeth. I would recommend going in to see your dentist to go over options for you. They’ll be able to answer any questions you may have to tooth loss and how to combat the various problems associated with it. If you have missing teeth, don’t wait to find out what can be done about it, as the problems will not get better by themselves.
Stay healthy my friends.