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The Consequences of Living with Missing Teeth

Losing a tooth – whether due to an injury accident or having a tooth extracted – is very common among adults around the world. This is particularly true for older adults, who are more prone to losing teeth as they age. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 35 and 44 have lost at least one tooth. While it may be tempting to simply live without one or more teeth, you should know that there are consequences if you decide to do so. Here are some of the problems that may occur as a result of losing teeth and not replacing them.

  • It impacts the appearance of your smile. If you’re missing a front tooth, it can have a very negative effect on the appearance of your smile. And people with unattractive smiles have a strong tendency to have low self-esteem and generally feel worse about themselves than those with nice smiles.
  • It can result in bone loss. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Bone tissue needs to be stimulated in order to maintain density. The alveolar bone tissue underneath your teeth, as well as the bone in your jaw, depend on pressure from the teeth for that stimulation. If it’s not there – as the result of even a single missing tooth – your bone density and form will suffer as a result. If your jawbone is compromised, over time the shape of your face will actually change, and the jawbone will become more susceptible to fracture.
  • It can lead to your other teeth shifting. Over time, your other remaining teeth will actually move inside your mouth in an effort to fill in the gap left behind by one or more missing teeth. This can have a domino effect by starting with throwing off your natural bite. This, in turn, can lead to other problems, often affecting the way you chew food and even how you speak. If your bite is off, it can cause your other teeth to wear down. Eventually, it can even lead to issues with your jawbone.

Now for the good news: modern dental technology has provided today’s dental patients with a variety of methods to replace missing teeth. Some options include dental bridges, dental implants or partial dentures, to name a few. If you are missing one or more teeth, talk to your dentist today. He or she can provide more information about the different tooth-replacement alternatives and can help you decide which is best for you.