Oral surgeons recommend that patients replace missing teeth as soon as possible after losing them. But if you’re not bothered by the gaps in your teeth, you may wonder whether this is truly necessary.
Contrary to what you may believe, tooth replacement isn’t all about aesthetics or convincing patients to spend more money. The reality is, if you don’t replace your missing teeth, you could end up with serious oral health problems.
Your Teeth Will Shift Out of Alignment
When you lose a tooth or have one extracted, the nearby teeth almost immediately start to drift into the newly created gap. As they shift, the teeth become crooked and misaligned. Eventually, you’ll notice a change in how your teeth meet. Plus, when teeth shift out of alignment, they’re also more likely to break, due to the added pressure and stress.
Your Risk of Gum Disease Increases
If you don’t replace missing teeth, your risk of developing gum disease goes up. Thoroughly brushing and flossing isn’t easy after the teeth start to shift, and if all the bacterial plaque isn’t removed, gum disease can take hold. Left untreated, the condition can lead to additional tooth loss.
You Could Have Difficulty Eating
Living with tooth loss can also mean eating problems. With missing teeth, biting and chewing is often more difficult. Avoiding foods that are crunchy or sticky is a short-term solution, but if you restrict your diet for too long, you may not get the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
You Might Suffer Jaw Joint Problems
If your teeth aren’t in proper alignment — which can occur if you don’t replace missing teeth promptly — the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is put under added strain when you speak and eat. As time goes on, the joint stress from tooth loss can cause TMJ disorder, a painful condition that affects mouth function.
You Can Expect Bone Loss in the Jaw
Continue to live with tooth loss, and you’ll soon be living with bone loss as well. The jawbone needs stimulation to stay strong and healthy — stimulation that the roots of your teeth usually provide. If you don’t get missing teeth replaced, your jawbone will begin to deteriorate. Over time, bone loss not only makes you look older than you are, it may also cause additional tooth loss.
Ideally speaking, tooth replacement should be considered immediately after an extraction or as soon as possible after tooth loss. But late is certainly better than never when it comes to replacing missing teeth.
If you have gaps in your smile and you live in the greater Salt Lake City area, make an appointment with the professionals at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah. Our highly trained, board-certified oral surgeons Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield are tooth-replacement specialists with over 10 years of experience.
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah offers the best tooth-replacement methods, and our professional team can explain all your options. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office today to learn how we can replace your missing teeth and restore your smile.