Missing teeth pose more than just an aesthetic problem because they can affect your other teeth. For example, the teeth and jaw help to maintain facial structure and joint alignment. Without some teeth, the structures won’t work as they should, and that causes imbalance. Missing teeth can also trigger a host of health problems like cardiovascular disease.
If you suddenly lose a tooth, consult an Indianapolis dentist immediately to check for and resolve any complications. Read to learn how missing teeth affect your health.
Difficult chewing arises because the jawbone shrinks or becomes weak due to lack of use, leading to a less-stable bite. Additionally, if a patient has had missing teeth for some time, their tongue may have adapted so that it no longer hits all of the remaining teeth when it moves from side to side.
The loss of certain types of chewing function may limit your ability or desire certain foods like meat or hard vegetables such as carrots that require greater force than soft fruits or bread.
You will experience pain when biting down on hard foods or talking with others. The pain is sharp or dull, depending on the location of the problem area within the mouth. You might feel discomfort when brushing your teeth and chewing. Sharp edges of the missing tooth usually cause this as it rubs against adjacent teeth.
Trouble Speaking Clearly
Since your teeth are necessary for eating and speaking, missing them can change your speaking in several ways. You may have trouble pronouncing certain sounds or words, and even if you get used to it, it will be a noticeable change in your voice.
People with missing teeth feel self-conscious about their smile, which can lead to avoiding smiling, laughing, and speaking altogether. It can cause depression, as well as low self-esteem. In some cases, dental implants may be able to restore the ability to speak clearly and smile confidently again.
Cause Early Aging
The skin around your mouth is more likely to wrinkle and sag if you don’t have any teeth. It is because the muscles in your face will stretch over time, making it harder for them to return to their original shape.
As you lose more teeth, your facial structure changes. Losing a tooth can cause the affected jawbone to shrink and become smaller than before. As a result, the neighboring teeth may start to shift out of place. Therefore, there will be less space for your lower and upper jawbone to meet when you close your mouth completely overbite. Overbites can lead to misaligned bites that make chewing and speaking difficult if not corrected by orthodontic treatment or surgery.
Risks for Periodontal Disease
Missing teeth can increase the risk for gum disease, which is caused by bacteria that build up on your gum tissue around the area where there are no teeth. The bacteria cause inflammation and pain, bleeding gums, and bad breath.
Your remaining natural teeth will also decay faster since they are not protected by enamel or structures like crowns or bridges in place as they would be with other missing teeth. It increases your chances of developing cavities if you don’t take proper steps like brushing regularly or flossing daily.
When a tooth is missing, the jawbone surrounding it begins to atrophy or shrink away. It happens because the body no longer has a reason to create new bone cells to replace old ones—the process that occurs with each new tooth as it erupts into place. Without this constant influx of new cells, the jawbone becomes thinner and less dense over time.
It can have serious consequences: When the bone becomes too thin, it’s much more likely to break. It can also become vulnerable to other health issues, such as gum disease and infection, which can cause further problems if left untreated.
Causes of Missing Teeth
Missing teeth can occur for many reasons.
- Tooth decay. As bacteria in your mouth break down food particles, they produce acids that attack the hard surface of your teeth. If the decay is not treated, it eats through the enamel and dentin—the softer layers beneath the enamel that hold your teeth in place.
- Gum disease. When plaque builds up on the teeth’ surface, it leads to inflammation and irritation of the gums (gingivitis).
- Injury from accidents or sports.
Oral health affects overall well-being. If you have experienced any dental work or condition, don’t hesitate to have it checked out by a professional—after all, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.