Three reasons not to ignore missing teeth

According to the American College of Prosthodontists, approximately 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. If you’re in this group and have simply accepted tooth loss as inevitable, you might want to reconsider. Ignoring missing teeth can have consequences for your oral health.

1. A gap in your teeth can cause misalignment

When a tooth is missing, the adjacent teeth can slowly move in to fill the gap. Over time, the following rows of teeth can gradually do the same. Known as drifting, this shifting of your teeth can create trouble with chewing or other concerns, including crooked teeth and an increased risk of tooth decay.

2. Increased risk of gum disease

The gum tissue that fills in the gap between missing teeth creates an area where bacteria can thrive. Left alone, this space increases the likelihood of a bacterial infection. Infected gums cause discomfort and the potential for damage to nearby teeth as diseased tissue recedes away from the base of healthy teeth.

3. Loss of jawbone mass and structure

Every time you chew, the root of your tooth pushes down into the jawbone to stimulate tissue growth. When you’re missing a tooth, the area under the gap no longer receives the signal to produce new bone tissue. Slowly, this leads to weakening and eventual loss of bone. As the jawbone shrinks, adjacent teeth no longer have the support they need, increasing the risk of loosening and additional tooth loss. Fortunately, replacing missing teeth with dental implants can reverse this process, as the titanium post that replaces a natural root is able to perform the same function and stimulate new tissue growth every time you chew.

To learn more about restoring your smile with dental implants, talk to your dentist or schedule an appointment with an oral surgeon. Dental implants look and function just like your natural teeth, are easy to clean, and protect your remaining teeth and jawbone from further damage.