Some people don’t mind having a gap in their mouth and can get on perfectly well after they have lost a tooth.
However, it’s important to be aware of the possible consequences of ignoring a missing tooth for an extended period of time. Not only can it lead to crowding in your mouth and leaning teeth, but the longer you ignore that gap, the more difficult it will be for your dentist to put things right. If you lose a tooth and don’t seek expert advice, it could eventually lead to a number of serious issues, ranging from aesthetic changes through to serious health concerns.
Resorbed Jaw Bone
One of the more dramatic issues that could arise from a missing tooth is a resorbed jaw bone. Usually, your jaw bone is continually stimulated by chewing and biting, but when a tooth is lost, this stimulation stops. This can cause a loss of the part of your jawbone that contains the roots of your teeth (the alveolar bone) and as a result, gum tissue gradually recedes, exposing the roots. The bone below the alveolar bone begins to resorb, and your face shape, including your chin and cheeks, can change. It can even affect your ability to chew and speak. The whole process can take many years but can be painful for patients, resulting in highly sensitive teeth and regular headaches. This is why you shouldn’t put off making that appointment to see an Adelaide dentist; the sooner you get advice, the better the outcome for your teeth.
Other Problems Associated with Missing Teeth
While a resorbed jaw bone can be a scary prospect, there are also smaller considerations to think about before choosing to ignore a missing tooth. Here are some other reasons why speaking with your dentist is the best way to ensure your dental health in the long-term:
- When you lose a tooth, your adjacent teeth often drift into the space that has been vacated, causing leaning and crowding.
- The teeth may tip or rotate, as they don’t have the support of the tooth next to them. This can affect your bite (malocclusion) and can even put strain on your jaw joint, causing you to experience unnecessary pain.
- Missing teeth can also lead to problems with your gums, root decay, and sensitive teeth; often known as periodontal problems.
- Since your mouth is uneven when you lose a tooth, you will chew more on one side than the other. This puts greater strain on that one side and increases the chances of problems arising there.
- The tooth or teeth opposite the missing tooth may hyper-erupt; this means they grow out of the gum too much. This is another issue that can lead to periodontal disease.
- Losing a tooth can affect your speech – and your smile.
What to Do if You Lose an Adult Tooth
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident that knocks out an adult tooth, try not to panic. Handle your precious tooth with care. Rinse it in a bowl of water and preserve it by placing it in a sterile saline solution. If the circumstances are right and your mouth is not too damaged, sterilise your tooth and try to gently place it back in its socket. Bite down on a handkerchief or gauze to hold it in place. This might seem difficult, but it will help your dentist to re-implant the tooth and help to keep the root healthy. Call your dentist immediately and ask to be seen as an emergency.
If you don’t visit a dental clinic as soon as possible, the socket could become infected or it could become too difficult for your dentist to re-implant your tooth back where it needs to be.
For more tips on how to look after a missing tooth, read our recent article, “Broken Tooth? Here’s What to Do”
If you play sport, it’s a great idea to take extra steps that will protect you from the possibility of having your teeth knocked out, chipped, or damaged. Your dentist can make a custom mouthguard for you so you’re comfortable and have peace of mind that you’re protected as best you can. Be sure to remember a helmet to protect yourself from blows, stray bats, balls and anything else that could cause damage to your face or jaw.
The aesthetics of your mouth may not be your primary concern right now and your missing tooth might be something you want to put off for another day. However, it’s better to get expert advice sooner rather than later.
If you’re in Adelaide and have a missing tooth, and you would like to learn more about your treatment options, book an appointment with one of the friendly dentists at Smilecare Dental. We can advise you on whether it’s best to fill that space with a denture, a bridge, or an implant, so you can keep your smile looking great and your mouth, gums, and jaw in as healthy a condition as possible.