Lots of people lose teeth. We all start out with 32, but by the time we’re 50 years old, statistics show there’s a good chance we’ll have only 20. Age, illness, injury, and infection all take their toll on your teeth. If you’ve lost one or two over the years and haven’t addressed the gaps because you think it’s no big deal, think again. Lost teeth are often the starting point for more serious conditions.
The dental professionals at Pacific Coast Smiles in Santa Maria, California, see this all the time. Patients lose a tooth and let it go because they believe replacing it is just a cosmetic issue. They couldn’t be more wrong — it’s a health issue. The dental team at Pacific Coast Smiles can restore your smile and protect your oral and overall health with dental implants.
Here’s what happens when you ignore your missing teeth.
Increases risk of gum disease
The spot where your tooth used to be is empty, just waiting for food to get stuck and stay there all day. It’s a breeding ground for bacteria looking for a place to get cozy and multiply. It’s also a little tender, which means you might skip over that spot when you brush your teeth.
All these conditions lead to gingivitis, the early stages of gum disease. Left untreated, it progresses to periodontitis, advanced gum disease, putting you in danger of losing more teeth.
Gum disease has also been linked to a higher risk of some serious health issues, such as heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, and diabetes.
Changes the way you chew and eat
Any time something changes in your mouth — you have a toothache, you bite your tongue, popcorn husks get stuck in between, or you lose a tooth — it affects the way you chew. You tend to baby that spot and chew only on the other side of your mouth, or you adjust your bite in a way that’s not natural. This can lead to pain in your temporomandibular joint in your jaw.
It also may mean you change your diet to avoid pain. Without a plan to maintain a proper balance of nutrients, you could be eliminating much-needed proteins and other essential elements your body needs. Over time, this could lead to malnourishment and related health problems.
Changes the way you look
The look and shape of your face are dependent on the structure beneath your skin. Your jawbone, cheekbones, skull, and teeth determine the contours of your face. If you’re missing teeth or even one tooth, it can have an outward effect.
The Pacific Smiles experts can restore your face by restoring your teeth. Dental implants replace the structure so your face doesn’t sag and sink. As people age, their teeth become shorter from years of chewing and grinding. Coupled with that, their facial skin, which has lost fat and elasticity, droops down with no support. Dental implants help restore a more youthful outward appearance.
Impacts surrounding teeth
Like any well-designed machine, your mouth works best when all the parts work together. When one of those parts is missing, the whole system breaks down. One of the problems caused by a missing tooth is the migration factor.
When there’s an open space in your mouth, your other teeth tend to shift and fill up that space. With no tooth next door to hold them up, they have no choice but to drift over into the vacated place. This results in crooked teeth and painful chewing. Dental implants solve the problem by filling the gap and supporting your remaining teeth.
May cause bone loss
Your teeth and jaw are in a symbiotic relationship — they need each other. When you lose a tooth, the jawbone underneath that spot no longer receives the daily pressure from chewing. It relies on that pressure to stimulate nerves and regenerate cells.
Without that stimulus, the jaw atrophies, and your body starts to absorb the bone. In severe cases, this bone loss may be unrecoverable. At that point, a dental implant would first require a bone graft to support the new tooth.
So you see, a missing tooth has serious consequences. Fortunately, you have options. To learn more, call Pacific Smiles at (805) 250-3652 or request a consultation online.