People often don’t think it’s important to replace a lost tooth. Losing a tooth, if you don’t replace it, can result in a series of consequences over time that not only can affect your mouth but also your health and self-esteem.
Inside the mouth, a whole series of events may take place. Firstly, the adjacent teeth may move towards the gap. This can result in negative consequences because the gap may close a little and if you want to replace the lost tooth later, there may not be enough space. Also, the rear teeth, which were together, are now separated as they move towards the gap. Food can start to be trapped here resulting in tooth decay. It may also feel uncomfortable at the end of a meal with friends or family to notice that the trapped food may be pressing between the teeth. You may be tempted to tongue the gap or use a toothpick to remove the trapped food. Secondly, the teeth of the opposing dental arch may start to erupt, looking for the tooth against which they can grind and chew; that’s what they do! But now, when there is no opposing tooth, they may start to grow out and with less bone support and become mobile and may come out with time.
All these tooth relocations may result in a change in your bite. For example, if you are missing a molar, the adjacent molar may tilt towards the gap and its top edge may become higher than the other teeth. From this moment, the patient will only be biting on this protruding edge and the other the teeth may not come together when the bite is closed; this will result in making it difficult to peel seeds or crush finer foods. Chewing will get worse and this molar will become overloaded and end up hurting. It will start to take the full force of chewing alone and the jaw joint, located close to the ear, can also start to hurt. Clicks may start to occur when opening or closing the mouth or the jaw may even lock. If the lost tooth is in the front of the mouth, the teeth may move towards the gap and cause asymmetry between the midline of the teeth with the midline of the face, which may affect the appearance. In order to resolve these changes in bite, first we have to reposition the teeth with orthodontics and so restore the aesthetics and function and then replace the lost tooth. A lost tooth can be replaced with a bridge, an implant or removable denture or teeth spacer for children. If you want to replace a tooth with an implant and it has been a long time since you lost the tooth, it may sometimes not work to only put in an implant. Sometimes it may be necessary to perform surgery to replace lost bone and/ or gum and then 6 months later to insert the implant. This can delay the process considerably and make it more expensive. This is because the bone in which the tooth was embedded stops performing its function when the tooth is lost and is reabsorbed and lost over time.
In terms of health, not being able to chew and crush food properly because of the lack of several teeth or because of a change of bite may result in poor digestion and health problems. There is no doubt that the absence of a tooth, if the gap is visible, the displacement of the midline and the discomfort of food between the teeth during meals and social events have a significant effect on self-esteem.
We often see this situation in consultations, people who have lost teeth and do not replace them. One of the reasons is the lack of information about the consequences that this entails in the long term. Other reasons are fear, lack of time and the cost of the implant or prosthesis. But people should know that an implant is a non-painful process and that there are also other options for replacing teeth as mentioned above. Today’s payment facilities are such that the cost of such treatments need not be an impediment. Lack of time should also not be a problem as inserting an implant may take only 45 minutes. You need one session and then two quick appointments to take measurements and insert the crown. It doesn’t take so much time, but you must be clear about your priorities because your health and quality of life must be put above everything else. This implies that the financial effort or time effort must be made. The worst part is that if you have neither the time or money, or are afraid now, you will have to be much braver and spend twelve times more time and three times the money on orthodontics for relocating all the teeth that have moved and then inserting the implant or prosthesis that you didn’t do at the proper time. Take the opportunity to think about this very common and paradoxical situation that occurs in the consulting rooms.
In conclusion, I would say that it is important to replace a missing tooth in the first 2 months or as early as possible to recover aesthetics and chewing function, preserve oral hygiene and prevent future tooth decay, avoid tooth wear and discomfort in the jaw joint.
Apart from saving a lot of time and money avoiding subsequent complex treatments and harming your self-esteem, your HEALTH SHOULD BE YOUR TOP PRIORITY.
Dra. Susana Crespo Jiménez