If you have one or more missing teeth and are wondering why you should replace them then this article is for you. Read on to find out the problems caused by missing teeth.
“Nothing you wear is more important than your smile”.– Connie Stevens
Teeth are an integral part of a beautiful and healthy smile. But sometimes they are lost due to cavities, gum disease, trauma, and nutritional deficiencies or need surgical extraction to prevent infections in the mouth.
Missing teeth, if not replaced soon, do not just pose a cosmetic problem but are a precursor to many health issues. The consequences start in a gradual manner. Hence people delay the treatment which makes the problem worse and the resulting treatment more extensive as well as expensive. So it is prudent to replace missing teeth as soon as possible.
Let’s consider the reasons why you should not delay the treatment of missing teeth.
- Bone loss around the missing tooth:
The pressure and stimulus of chewing preserves the jaw bone. This can be equated to exercise which helps to stimulate our muscles; which if not used shrivel and atrophy. The bone surrounding the missing teeth is not stimulated and hence starts to disintegrate. About 25% of the bone is lost in the first year and this continues to occur even later. If you opt for dentures to replace the teeth, you will still experience the same amount of bone loss as dentures exert only about 10% of chewing pressure on the bone compared to natural teeth.
However, dental implants stop bone loss and can reverse it. They are embedded in the bone just like tooth roots and fused to the bone by a process called osseointegration which not only maintains the bone but can actually increase bone density at the site.
- Teeth shift into the space created by missing teeth:
Nature has set teeth in the mouth in such a way that adjacent teeth are in contact and they support each other to withstand the biting and chewing forces. The chewing surfaces of teeth from the opposite jaws contact each other for effective masticatory forces. Thus there are equal and opposite forces to keep the teeth in place and they are in complete harmony.
But when space is created by a lost tooth, there is an imbalance of forces. The neighboring teeth shift to fill up space as they have nothing to stop them from the movement. The opposing teeth will erupt into the gap. This shifting is like a domino effect, as it creates more gaps. The shifting teeth become unstable as their roots are destabilized leading to loose teeth with exposed root surface. Over time the gaps begin to grow. These misaligned teeth create problems in the bite as well.
- Problems with the bite:
As discussed earlier, with no adjacent and opposing teeth, the remaining teeth start to move in the gaps. This leads to irregularities in the alignment of teeth, leading to problems with the bite. The tooth which has over erupted can impinge on the gums on the opposite side leading to gum pain. The occlusion i.e. the way in which the opposing teeth come together is completely thrown off.
These bite abnormalities lead to problems like pain in the Temporomandibular joint which is the joint of the jaw and soreness of the muscles supporting it. It can cause head and neck aches, facial pain, unnatural wearing down of teeth, sensitivity, chronic headaches, and tooth loss. Correcting such complex and severe problems is a long process. Preventing it in the first place by replacing teeth is the best solution.
- Difficulty in eating leads to nutritional deficiencies:
Healthy teeth let us enjoy all types of food. Teeth help us bite, chew, tear and grind our food. Missing teeth, depending on their place on the mouth, will keep you from enjoying certain foods. If the front teeth are missing, you will not be able to bite into an apple or a pizza. Similarly, missing teeth in the back of the mouth i.e. molars will severely affect your chewing ability.
In such situations, being unable to bite and chew properly, people avoid eating food that they once used to enjoy and stick to eating less or soft food only. This affects their diet and causes nutritional deficiencies. The most common types of food groups avoided are fiber-rich fruits and vegetables since the rough texture makes chewing difficult.
- Loss of self-confidence:
Missing front teeth can make you feel self-conscious and embarrassed when you speak or smile in the public. It can lead to low self-esteem. You may have reservations of being in large public groups. Some even feel that they are unable to advance their career; while others feel they are not able to lead a healthy social life.
- Difficulty in speaking:
Gaps in teeth, especially in the front teeth, make it tough to pronounce certain words. There may be slurred speech, lisping, unintentional whistling or even spitting which is awkward and embarrassing.
- You look older:
Missing teeth can add years to your looks. After a tooth is lost, the jaw bone that surrounds it starts to weaken. Over a period its volume and density decrease. A whole bunch of changes start to take place in the appearance of your face; the nose and the chin come closer, the lips start to curve down and the lower part of the face starts to appear collapsed, leading to an aged look. The facial muscles are unsupported leading to sagging of facial features. Missing teeth in the back can change the jawline. You start to look older, with sunken cheeks, wrinkling of the skin around the mouth and drooping of the corners of the mouth.
Considering all these unpleasant consequences it is best to replace lost or extracted teeth as soon as possible. Like it’s said a stitch in time saves nine, similarly the cost and time of treatment to undo the problems caused by not treating very high.
Dental implants are the best solution to replacing teeth since they maintain the jaw bone. They are fixtures that are firmly anchored in the jaw bone and act like roots of teeth and firmly hold the replacement tooth crown. Made of Titanium, implants are biocompatible and extremely safe. If you care for them just like your natural teeth, they can last a lifetime. The cost of a dental implant in India depends on the experience and expertise of the Dentists, the type of implant and the technology used to place it.
Talk to your dentist today to find out if implants are suitable for you.