When you lose your teeth, there are several things that happen to affect the health of your mouth that you may not realize. Dr. Suril Amin, dentist at The Denture & Implant Clinic in Sutton, Surrey, explains these effects and the importance of replacement options such as dental implants for preventing dental problems and maintaining oral health after the loss of teeth.
Dental conditions after tooth loss
Dentists take teeth out every day and it can be tempting to just leave a gap where the tooth was to save money and time, but once you become aware of the long-term effects of the lost tooth on your oral health, you may want to reconsider leaving the gap for a long period of time. You may be surprised to learn that losing just one tooth could have a disastrous effect on the rest of your mouth.
What happens when a person loses teeth and dental implants are not used to replace the teeth?
1. Bone Loss
Bone is usually maintained around your natural teeth because the physical forces that are exerted on them while you are eating are passed down into the bone. These physical forces are picked up by receptors in the bone cells, which in turn send signals to your body that it needs to keep this bone healthy and strong because it is being actively used.
As soon as a tooth is lost, the physical forces transmitted to the bone are stopped. The lack of force is also picked up by the receptors, which in turn send signals to the rest of the body to inform it that it doesn’t need this bone anymore. The body then starts to break this bone down slowly and progressively. In the first year, a relatively large amount of bone is lost and then it continues to deteriorate slowly throughout the rest of your life.
This bone loss then makes it more difficult to have dental implants placed later on, often involving the need for additional procedures such as bone grafting (which incurs additional time and costs). In addition, if the gap is left for a long period, the success of dentures starts to decrease because the dentures become less stable when you have less bone.
As soon as implants are placed, the physical forces transmitted to the bone return, which send signals to the rest of the body to keep the bone healthy and strong because it is being used again.
2.Your teeth will start to move
Teeth like to be around other teeth. A tooth works best when it has another tooth across from it to work in tandem while biting, as well as other teeth on each side. As soon as you lose a tooth, the teeth surrounding it will start to drift into the open space. They will slowly start to do this as soon as the tooth is lost, and sometimes the movement 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, becoming looser until eventually the tooth needs to be taken out. This effect is very commonly seen if 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 you are eating can cause bone loss. The more bone you lose around the tooth, the less secure it becomes.
- Drifting teeth can cause issues with your bite, leading to a dysfunctional bite. This is then very likely to cause issues with your jaw joint, headaches, muscular pain, excessive tooth wear, and gum recession. These effects are be very serious if left untreated.
As soon as the gap is filled with either an implant, bridge or denture, the effects described above are halted and do not occur anymore.
3. You place more force on your remaining teeth
Our mouth is optimally designed to tear or cut up food using our front teeth and then chew or crush the remaining food with our strong back teeth. One of the most common situations 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 for long-term oral health, as the person will now be putting a lot of biting forces solely on their front teeth. This, coupled with the fact that the front teeth are not designed to withstand these types of forces, can lead to bone loss, chipping and wear of the front teeth, and eventually tooth loss.
As soon as you fill the back teeth with either implants or dentures, this effect stops.
4. It can make it more difficult to clean around your teeth effectively
When you lose a tooth, more surfaces on the neighboring teeth are exposed. A lot of people don’t realize that their brushing techniques will have to change in order to clean these newly exposed surfaces. If these surfaces aren’t thoroughly cleaned, it can lead to further bone loss around the neighboring teeth.
Learn more about dental implants in a consultation
If you think that you’re experiencing any of these problems discussed above, and are interested in learning more about how you can recover tooth loss with implants and what the benefits of dental implantation are, we encourage you to call The Denture & Implant Clinic in Sutton Surrey to schedule a consultation. We see and treat cases like this every day and it’s often best to deal with them early on. However, even if you have had a tooth gap for a while, there are many things we can do to prevent further problems. Call us today at 020 8629 1226!