Lets talk about doing nothing. There are various options available for tooth replacement including the option to do absolutely nothing. This may sound like a nice easy option. You may think that if you cant see the gap then it doesn’t matter. This is a very widespread misconception. There are some instances in which a missing tooth does not cause any repercussions, for example the extraction or the lack of wisdom teeth. In fact, we often recommend the removal of impacted or decayed wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth are usually so far back that they can be very difficult to clean, clinically restore and maintain. They often have a poor long term prognosis. Other issues that may result from the presence of wisdom teeth, fully erupted or otherwise, may include the lack the space to erupt in line with the other teeth. It is also important to consider that wisdom teeth have become almost redundant due various factors such as lifestyle and facial structure changes over the years. Evolution has begun to show in increased prevalence of these teeth disappearing from genetic lines.
So, what about our other teeth? The other teeth are often functional teeth. This means that their presence, when aligned well, are required for optimal functionality and aesthetics, as well as good jaw and muscle health. Did you know that a missing tooth can can cause headaches and pain in your Tempo-Mandibular Joint (jaw joint)? Did you know it could affect your sleep? When you are missing a functional tooth, in particular a back tooth (molar), this may affect how you use that side of your mouth. Just as you experience neck pain from sleeping crooked, your jaw muscles may experience pain from using the muscles incorrectly.
Another consequence of a missing tooth is a change in your jaw’s natural closing position. Your body and oral environment are highly sensitive to change. Even the slightest change can cause issues. When you remove a tooth, your bite may change causing undue pressure on other teeth. This can lead to sensitivity issues as bruising may occur from unnatural high spots.
There are many pressures in your mouth and jaw that we take for granted. Apart from unique oral environments, we also have unique chewing pressures. When a back tooth is missing, the pressure on the adjacent teeth is increased. This can lead to fractures, chipping and other long term damage to your other healthy teeth.
Aesthetics too, can be very important. After all, our smile is the first thing people see and may affect our confidence. It is expected that over time, drifting or over eruption of adjacent/opposing teeth may occur. Drifting teeth is when the neighbouring teeth drift or tilt into the gap which may cause discomfort, food impaction and losing the option to replace the tooth into the future. Over eruption occurs over time causing the opposite tooth to grow into the space caused by the missing tooth.
In these circumstances, tooth replacement may still be an option however assessment by one of our dentists will be required to identify your potential options. Get in to see your dentist if you have a missing tooth and avoid having to deal with unnecessary future complications. We offer treatments such as partial and full dentures, ceramic bridges and implants. Assessment is simple and non-invasive and you can also discuss payment plans with one of our friendly healthcare professionals. In the meantime, why not check out our post “Tooth Replacement Options” for more information.