It’s just a painful tooth. Please remove it!’
‘I have so many teeth. Why should I replace one missing tooth that’s not even visible?’
These are common things dentists hear. But every tooth counts! Many people get their teeth removed when they have pain. Often when a front tooth is lost, people replace them immediately since it affects their appearance and self-esteem. But they do not realize why it’s important to replace a missing tooth at the back of the mouth. Though it’s not visible from the outside, other than the wisdom teeth, a missing back tooth can eventually affect their health.
In the illustration above you can see the bottom tooth was taken out and over time we can clearly see the following changes:
- The tooth behind the gap has tipped forwards creating a gap behind it causing food lodgement. This has lead to decay between the teeth.
- The same has happened in front of the space.
- The tooth above has moved down, exposing its root and also leading to decay around it.
Even when one tooth is lost, all teeth start shifting, creating spaces and a once straight smile may turn crooked. Spaces can affect speech. Whistling sounds and spitting might also occur during speech. The adjacent teeth start tilting towards the empty space. Tooth in the opposite jaw starts supra erupting or extruding or growing into the empty space eventually becoming weak, sensitive or decayed. Adjacent teeth get decayed since it’s difficult to reach all areas which are left open with the toothbrush and floss.
The jaw bone and gum recedes in the missing tooth area. This bone loss can weaken adjacent teeth. Also, the extra load on adjacent teeth weakens them. This can also cause the cheeks to look hollow or saggy and makes one look older since lip and cheek support is lost. Upper back teeth when lost, over time, the sinus cavity can expand and erode the jaw bone making it complex to place implants.
Missing teeth can eventually cause changes in the way one bites and may cause jaw joint (TMJ), muscle pain and headaches. Teeth play a vital role in chewing and breaking down food. This can lead to digestion issues. People even avoid healthy foods like nuts since they cannot chew properly. Consequently, this takes a toll on the health and well-being.
It’s very important to avoid extraction but when inevitable, replacement of the tooth at the earliest is very important. The more replacement is delayed, more problems occur and the more difficult and expensive it becomes to replace the tooth.