The Surprising Dangers Caused by Missing Teeth
March 3, 2015
Having a missing tooth can cause you to feel self-conscious and may result in a loss of self esteem. But while having a missing tooth might not be pretty, there are other dangers that come with missing teeth, some of which may result in deeper health concerns.
The Bacteria Breeding Ground
Thanks to mouthwash and toothpaste commercials, you are probably aware that the majority of bacteria in your mouth resides in areas that can’t be easily seen or reached. When you have lost a tooth, this bacteria has a perfect new home. The dark caverns that are left behind when you lose your tooth are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria that can cause cavities, gum disease, and decay. You may also find that food can easily become stuck or trapped in the space left behind by your tooth, leading to bad breath and further increases in bacteria.
People who are missing teeth, particularly molars, will find that their bite shifts as one side of the mouth must work to compensate for the inability to chew on one side. This invariably leads to an increase in jaw pain and stiffness and over time you may develop TMJ disorder. TMJ typically causes jaw pain, clicking or popping, muscular headaches, and can limit your jaw opening.
As time goes on, the teeth that surround the tooth gap will begin to shift, trying to fill in the space that is left behind. This will lead to increased gaps between your other teeth and your shifting teeth may begin to tilt or twist as they move. When this happens, your ability to eat will be further compromised and your chances of developing TMJ will also increase.
A big part of bone strength is dependent on stimulation. Your jaw bone supports your teeth and the small vibrations and stress caused by the contact of your teeth forces your bone to stay strong and resilient. It’s similar to your muscles getting stronger as you work out.
When you lose teeth, your bone stops receiving these small vibrations and stressors and you begin to lose bone density, including width, height, and bone volume. Within the first year, you may see a loss of as much as 25% of the width of the bone. Within a few years, the height of the bone will also decrease by up to 4 millimetres.
As you can imagine, this bones loss will cause aesthetic issues, as well as problems with eating, talking, and pain. If you continue to lose teeth, the problem will become further exasperated and the loss of bone density can lead to fractures.
If that weren’t enough, untreated tooth loss can cause your facial structure to change and you will appear to age more quickly.
What Can I Do To Replace My Missing Teeth?
Fortunately, today’s dental technology has advanced to a point where we can replace missing teeth with little to no pain. Because of the way that dental implants are designed, they will function the same as natural teeth, protect you from bone loss, and their realistic appearance will help you get your confidence back.
Dental implants replace your entire tooth structure, including the root. A small screw acts as the tooth root and is attached to the jaw. The screws are made of pure titanium, which allows the bone to fuse to the metal for a secure fit. A crown (fake tooth) is then attached to the top of the screw. This crown looks, feels, and acts just like a natural tooth. These crowns are also replaceable, should there ever been a need, without the removal of the implant.
As mentioned above, the stress that tooth contact places on the jawbone forces the bone to constantly repair and rebuild, creating a strong structure. Because implants are fused to the bone, they will work in the same way that natural teeth do, strengthening the jawbone.
Best of all, dental implants have an extremely high success rate, so there is little risk and more than enough reward to make the procedure worthwhile.
Dental Implants in Kelowna
At our Kelowna dental clinic, we have been offering dental implant surgery for years. Dr. Mark Honce received his training from Dr. Carl Misch, who formed the Misch International Implant Institute in 1984. In 2014, Dr. Misch received the American Dental Association’s Distinguished Service Award. With training from such an esteemed leader in dentistry, you can feel confident that the team at Honce Dentistry will deliver the best service and procedures available.
If you have any questions about your missing teeth or if you would like to schedule an appointment to get a dental implant in Kelowna, give us a call at 250-765-4454.