Missing Teeth

Missing teeth can be one of the most obvious and embarrassing problems, and can severely impact your chewing ability and normal oral function.

There are 3 treatment options when dealing with a missing tooth or teeth:

Do nothing?

Many patients mistakenly believe losing a tooth and leaving gap has no consequences.

Most adults can expect to have 32 teeth. The third molars, or “wisdom” teeth, are often extracted because they do not grow into the mouth properly due to a lack of room and it is very unusual to have wisdom teeth replaced. But the other 28 teeth are needed; your mouth and jaw have developed over time to maximize efficiency and function. When you lose a tooth, the efficiency and function of your teeth suffers, and you also lose some ability to chew food properly. This may mean you either place more stress on the other teeth in order to chew all the food you eat, or you do not chew well enough and what is swallowed is not quite ready to be digested. Or you might switch to a diet that consists of softer foods that do not have to be chewed as much and even eliminate certain favourite foods. For each missing tooth, you lose approximately 10% of your remaining ability to chew food.

Other problems also occur. The teeth adjacent to the space left by the missing tooth will eventually shift. For example, if a lower tooth is extracted, the opposing tooth in the upper jaw will grow slowly (or sometimes quickly) longer in a downward direction into the missing tooth space. This is called extrusion or super-eruption. The teeth on either side of the missing tooth space will move and tilt off their proper vertical axis and drift into the missing tooth’s space. This can make these teeth more prone to decay and gum disease because it is much harder to keep the teeth clean when they are not aligned properly. Root structure which is normally covered by gum and bone may become exposed. All this can happen if one tooth is lost.

Other major problems can occur if multiple teeth are lost. There is a loss of the arch length, the distance from the back of the last tooth on one side of your mouth to the back of the last tooth on the other side of your mouth. With collapsed bite and loss of vertical dimension, the distance from your chin to the tip of your nose decreases, making your face shorter. Extrusion and movement of your maxillary (upper) alveolar bone until the gum tissue from the upper jaw can touch the teeth or gum tissue of the other jaw causes loss of facial tone and shape. The facial muscles of the cheeks and mouth sink into the edentulous (extraction) site. There can also be severe cosmetic problems when the extracted tooth’s space is visible when you talk or smile.

If you are interested in replacing a missing tooth, or teeth, please contact us today.

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