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Why do I need to replace a back tooth?

Patients missing a back molar sometimes decide to avoid the cost or discomfort of undergoing treatment to replace the tooth.

Most reason that there’s no need to replace the tooth because “nobody can see it.” Unfortunately, this is a decision that may lead to long-term problems.

Loss in functionality

From a dental point of view, replacing molars is equally as important as replacing front teeth. Your posterior teeth play a vital role in chewing and grinding food. Back teeth also relieve pressure from your front teeth when biting.

Risk of bite collapse

The pressure of chewing and biting can cause healthy teeth adjacent to the empty socket to tip, migrate or rotate. Should your back molars shift too far, you may eventually be unable to eat certain foods.

Even one missing back tooth has the potential to weaken your entire dental system. Left unchecked, shifting of the teeth can lead to a situation where some of your teeth are rendered useless. Excessive wear and tear on can occur on your remaining teeth, particularly when a patient is missing more than one posterior tooth.

Eruption of opposing tooth

Teeth are held in place in part by the pressure of the opposing tooth pushing backwards when we bite or chew. If a healthy tooth has no tooth opposite to push against, it can slowly erupt, or grow further out of your gums.

An erupted tooth can cause a problem should you wish to replace the missing tooth in the future as there may no longer be sufficient space in your bite. Erupted teeth are also at risk for periodontal disease as the pressure needed to stimulate new jaw bone growth is no longer there.

Bone deterioration

Any time a socket is left untreated following the loss of a tooth, the jaw bone surrounding the empty canal can begin to weaken and erode. Over time, the bone loss can cause ridges to shrink. As ridges lose their shape your cheeks can begin to sink, causing your face to take on an older appearance.

Treatment options

Dental bridges and dental implants are the most common treatments used to prevent the issues that can be caused by a missing back tooth. If you are missing one or more molars, talk to your dentist or oral surgeon about treatment options.