If you are missing a back tooth, you may be tempted not to replace it. After all, a bridge or dental implant can cost a significant amount of money. And since no one can see your missing tooth, it’s easy to think that filling in the gap is unnecessary. Such reasoning is dangerous. As we’ll discuss in this article, a missing back tooth can lead to some serious consequences.
Teeth have a natural capacity for movement. It is normal for slight dental drift to occur as the years go by. However, a missing tooth can drastically accelerate that process. This happens because teeth serve as placeholders for one another. When one tooth goes missing, the adjacent teeth begin to shift out of their proper places. Eventually, the dental drift may cause a misaligned bite.
If you are missing a bottom tooth, the tooth directly above the empty space could even over-erupt, meaning that it may extend too far out of the gumline. The over-eruption may reach the point where the tooth no longer functions properly and must be extracted.
Challenges with Eating
The teeth at the back of the mouth are the ones primarily responsible for chewing food. When one of them goes missing, you might begin to chew mostly on the other side of your mouth instead of evenly distributing your food. Over time, this places excess strain on the chewing side of your mouth and allows the muscles on the non-chewing side to weaken.
Another possible eating challenge is presented by food debris, which may collect in the empty space left by the tooth. Your gum tissue may become irritated and be at a greater risk of incurring an infection.
Changes to Your Appearance
It might seem counterintuitive to think that a missing tooth at the back of your mouth could affect your appearance — but it can! After the tooth is lost, the bone that once supported it will begin to deteriorate, much like an unused muscle is prone to atrophy. The bone may shrink in size to the point where your face takes on a sunken appearance. This problem is more prominent among individuals who are missing multiple teeth, but even a single lost tooth leads to bone deterioration.
The Best Tooth Replacement Solution
A traditional dental bridge can replace your lost tooth, prevent dental drift, and improve your eating ability. However, since it cannot prevent bone loss, a dental implant is a superior solution. The implant acts as a substitute for the root of the lost tooth, stimulating the surrounding bone and helping it to stay strong and whole. A beautiful, natural-looking crown goes on top of an implant to replace the top portion of the missing tooth.
Whether or not others can see your lost tooth, it is important that you replace it! Seeking proper treatment could spare you from dental drift, challenges with eating, and changes to your facial appearance.
Meet the Oral Surgeons
Drs. Steve Koo and Tom Weil are dental implant experts in the Houston area. They work alongside the newest member of our team, Dr. William Shepard, to provide expert dental implant placement. If you would like to talk to them about how you can replace your missing back tooth, contact our office at 713-597-7340.