Children start out with 20 milk teeth. After these “baby teeth” fall out, 32 permanent teeth replace them. Throughout life, many individuals end up losing one or more permanent teeth to an injury, other trauma, various diseases or even to old age. Although tooth loss is a normal part of life, failing to replace one or more lost teeth can have serious consequences.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Replace Missing Teeth
People will often brush off the loss of a tooth, especially when the gap does not show. The potential consequences of tooth loss, however, go further than concerns about appearance. If left unaddressed, a lost tooth can cause the following health concerns:
- Bone Loss – Teeth provide essential support to the overall structure of the jaw bones. Like muscles, bones can also atrophy when not in use. When a person chews or bites down, teeth put pressure on the jaw bone, prompting the body to fortify the bone. Without a tooth supporting it, the bone will begin to deteriorate. This bone loss causes other teeth to move into the open space, creating an uncomfortable bite, and shrinks the jaw, changing a person’s appearance.
- Gum Infections – Tooth loss leaves open spaces in the mouth, which are difficult to clean. The open space between teeth leaves a large portion of the gum vulnerable to infection.
- Difficulty Eating – Having one or several gaps between teeth due to tooth loss can make eating certain foods (nuts, seeds, vegetables and meat) challenging. As a result, tooth loss hinders proper nutrition and can also lead individuals to become embarrassed eating in social settings.
- Difficulty Speaking – Teeth are also an essential mechanism of proper speech and pronunciation.
- Social Consequences – Missing teeth can create visible gaps, speech difficulties and dining troubles, which can affect a person’s confidence.
Dentures Aren’t the Only Choice: Ways to Restore Your Smile
For some, dentures are the best option for replacing lost teeth. Custom-made dentures have become extremely comfortable and personalized, but they are not always the right choice for replacing lost teeth. Thanks to advances in modern cosmetic dentistry, individuals with missing teeth now have several options for tooth replacement, such as implants, bridges and partial or full dentures. Patients can talk with Dr. Fotinos & Dr. Rosales to determine which treatment option will work best for them.
To schedule your first comprehensive dental exam, call our office at (714) 538-5182 or click here to book an appointment today. If visiting the dentist makes you nervous, be sure to ask about our sedation dentistry services.