In a past article entitled, “When Tooth Extractions are Necessary”, we discussed possible reasons why your dentist may opt to extract one or more teeth. In this article, we will be discussing why it is important to replace missing teeth, whether they were extracted, fell out, or were knocked out. After one or more teeth has been extracted or have gone missing, it is advised to replace that missing tooth or teeth as soon as possible. This is because there are several consequences to your oral health that can occur as a result of not replacing a missing tooth. Not only that, but these consequences become more serious if you are missing multiple teeth. In order to avoid these consequences, here is why you should replace missing teeth:
Prevent Your Teeth From Shifting
When a tooth falls out or is extracted, it leaves behind a gap in the mouth. If this gap is not filled in with a dental prosthetic of some kind, then the surrounding teeth will slowly begin to move sideways in order to fill the gap. Unfortunately, this triggers a chain reaction where every tooth eventually shifts in position. This makes it so that not only do you have a missing tooth, but all your remaining teeth are no longer aligned properly. Conversely, placing a dental prosthetic closes up the space and allows the remaining teeth to maintain their natural position.
Prevent Damaged Teeth
When missing teeth are not replaced and the surrounding teeth start to shift to fill in the gap left behind, this means that certain teeth end up absorbing more force than others. Depending on how these teeth are aligned, this can also mean that certain parts of the tooth are exposed to a great amount of force while chewing. When one opposing tooth hits another opposing tooth at an abnormal angle, this can easily cause the affected teeth to chip or crack.
Maintain Tooth Enamel
Misaligned upper and lower teeth can also wear down the tooth enamel prematurely. Although tooth enamel is one of the strongest substances in the human body, it is still susceptible to damage, especially when one tooth is constantly grinding against another in an improper position. Even if there isn’t enough force being exerted to cause the tooth to chip or crack, your enamel can still be slowly eroding overtime. This can eventually result in teeth that are sensitive to hot, cold, or sweet, as well as teeth that are easily decayed. Both of these things are caused by thin enamel.
While a missing tooth can cause the teeth surrounding it to slowly creep sideways, it can also cause the opposing teeth to slowly creep into the gap as well. This is known as overgrowth, since it is characterized by a tooth that is opposed to a gap left by a missing tooth and that keeps growing in an attempt to fill the gap. It happens because there is no longer an opposing force to prevent the affected tooth from growing, which means the remaining tooth can grow quite long.
Prevent Jaw Problems
The alignment of your teeth directly influences your jaw joint and how it functions. Shifting, damaged, or overgrown teeth all affect the way your bite meets up. If your upper and lower teeth are not lining up the way they are supposed to, this means that your jaw joint will likely need to work harder to compensate. Depending on how uneven your bite is, this can eventually cause degeneration of the jaw joint, which is associated with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMD can affect your jaw function and can also cause irritating symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches, earaches, and facial pain.