If you have one or more missing teeth, you may wonder how important it is to get them fixed. They are just teeth. What’s the big deal? It will only affect the look of my smile, right? Surely, my other teeth will be fine. That’s not necessarily the case. Some people are fine with having missing teeth from their smile, but it can actually cause long-term issues in the future.
Your teeth all work together as one unit. So when something affects one tooth (or one area of teeth) it can affect them all. While it may not cause any immediate issues, over time you will have much more to worry about than the aesthetics of your smile.
It Can Cause Bite Problems
When you lose a tooth, your bite (the way your upper teeth and lower teeth come together) becomes altered. Your teeth fit in your mouth a certain way, so with a tooth missing, your teeth may begin to shift. This is not just a problem with the straightness of your teeth. It is also an issue with how your teeth fit together to do their job.
If you have ever been in a hurry to eat and your teeth met improperly, you may have experienced some pain or discomfort. Imagine feeling this each time you eat or even speak. It makes it difficult to bite and chew your food correctly if your bite is altered significantly.
With a misaligned bite, you may also be susceptible to chipping or breaking a tooth because your teeth are not coming together properly. Any time you have some kind of fracture in your teeth, you are more likely to develop tooth decay. This is because harmful bacteria have easier access to the inside of your teeth.
Your Oral Health Is at Risk
When you have one or more teeth missing, it can make it more difficult to keep your entire mouth clean and healthy. With a gap in your smile, it is possible that brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly will become increasingly harder without dental intervention. As your bite begins to change, there may be spots that you can’t clean daily, which increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
With your teeth not tightly fitting in your mouth, your other teeth may not only shift, but they can loosen. Having one tooth missing can increase the likelihood of you losing more of your teeth. Over time, one missing tooth can turn into several, like dominoes.
Your Jaw Can Be Affected
Not only can a missing tooth alter your teeth, but your jaw can also begin to develop side effects as well. A bad bite or a misaligned bite can put unnecessary stress on your temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ. This joint is responsible for the hinging movement that makes it possible for you to eat and speak.
Naturally, increased stress and improper movement can lead to developing a joint disorder (TMD). The effects of TMD can range from a non-painful popping and clicking sound when you move your jaw to the lack of ability to open and close your mouth.
Without the pressure of your teeth in their correct position, your jawbone can begin to deteriorate. Your jawbone needs the constant pressure of a tooth in place; otherwise, it will shrink.