Dentists take teeth out everyday, but if you knew what the long-term effects associated with missing teeth, you may want to reconsider leaving the gap for long periods of time. Loosing just one tooth could have a disastrous effect on the rest of your mouth. Here is what can happen when a person loses teeth and does not replace the gap with implants.
Bone is usually maintained around your natural teeth because the physical forces exerted on them during eating is passed down into the bone. This physical force is picked up by receptors in the bone cells, which in turn send signals to tell your body that it needs to keep this bone as it currently being used.
As soon as a tooth is lost, the physical forces transmitted to the bone is stopped. This is picked up by the receptors, which in turn sends signal to the rest of the body telling it that it doesn’t need this bone anymore. The body then starts to break this bone away slowly and progressively. In the first year a relatively large amount of bone is lost and then it happens slowly through your life.
This bone loss then makes it more difficult to have implant treatment, often involving the need for an additional procedure such as bone grafting which incurs additional costs. In addition, if left for a long period the success of dentures starts to decrease as the less bone you have, the less stable the dentures become.
As soon as implants are placed, the physical forces transmitted to the bone return, which sends signals to the rest of the body to tell it to keep the bone as it now being used again.
Your teeth will start to move
Teeth like to be around other teeth. They like it when they have another tooth to bite into and have other teeth side by side. As soon as you loose one of these teeth the teeth will start to drift into the open space. They will do this slowly as soon as the tooth is lost and sometimes it won’t stop until they find another tooth to contact. The negative effects of this are:
- When teeth drift downwards or upwards, they tend to move out of the bone. The more they move out of the bone the less secure they are until eventually the tooth needs to be taken out. This effect is commonly seen when lower molars are taken out and the upper molars have nothing to bite into.
- The teeth will drift and then start slanting at angles. Teeth are designed to withstand vertical forces when they are upright but when they start slanting the effects of the forces transmitted when eating can cause bone loss. The more bone you lose around the tooth the less secure it becomes.
- Drifting teeth can cause issue with your bite leading to a dysfunctional bite. This is very likely to cause issues with your jaw joint, headaches, muscular pain, excessive tooth wear and gum recession. These effects can be very serious if left.
As soon as the gap is filled with either an implant, bridge or denture, the effects described above don’t happen or stop.
You transmit more forces to your remaining teeth
Nature has designed our mouth so that we can tear/cut up food using our front teeth and then chew/crush the remaining food with our strong back teeth. One of the most common cases we see at The Denture and Implant Clinic is when someone has lost a lot of their back teeth but still have their front teeth. This is not a great situation, as the person will now be putting a lot of biting force solely on their front teeth. This coupled with the fact that the front teeth are not designed to withstand these types of forces leads to bone loss, chipping and wear of the front teeth which will eventually leads to tooth loss.
As soon as you fill the back teeth either with implants or dentures – this effect stops.
It can make it more difficult to clean around your teeth effectively
More surfaces of the neighboring teeth will be exposed following tooth loss and a lot of people don’t realise that their brushing techniques will have to change in order to clean these new exposed surfaces. This may then lead to further bone loss around the neighboring teeth.
If you think that you are experiencing any of these problems discussed above, book in to see us for advice – we see and treat cases like this everyday. It’s often best to deal with them early on, however, even if left there are many things we can do to prevent further problems.