You’ve joined the ranks of the 178 million people in the United States who are missing at least one tooth. Instead of taking steps to replace the missing tooth, you’re contemplating just leaving well enough alone and making do without. Ignoring missing teeth places you at risk for joining a far more serious statistic — the 40 million people who are missing all of their teeth.
The dangers of ignoring missing teeth extend far beyond cosmetics, which is why the team of dental experts here at Willow Glen Dental Specialists wants to focus on the subject in this month’s blog post.
The complications of missing teeth
You lose a tooth, and the resulting gap-toothed grin isn’t as cute as it was when you were a child. The cosmetic effects of missing teeth are fairly obvious, especially when these teeth are located in your “smile zone.”
If your missing tooth isn’t as obvious, don’t let an “out of sight, out of mind,” thinking take over. Missing back teeth can have an impact on your ability to chew food properly, and your digestive system relies on this frontline food processing to make its job go more smoothly.
Beyond chewing and cosmetic concerns, our big concern is bone loss in your jaw.
Why missing teeth lead to bone loss
When your teeth are healthy and intact, the roots that go down into your jawbone signal your body that the area is active. As a result, your body sends resources to the area to constantly rebuild and remodel bone, keeping the hard tissue strong and healthy.
When you lose a tooth, you lose those roots, so your body no longer registers any activity in the immediate area and ceases to rebuild bone.
This process can happen quickly after tooth loss — you lose about 30% of the bone in three months and about 50% of the bone after a year.
This bone loss can place your neighboring teeth in danger, causing them to shift out of place, and you run the risk of losing the teeth, creating even more bone loss in your jaw. In other words, losing one tooth can have a snowball effect on your surrounding teeth and on your jawbone.
All too soon, you can join the ranks of people who are missing entire rows of teeth. Not only does this create serious functional issues, your face can start to look sunken in due to the heavy bone loss.
Replacing missing teeth
At our practice, we specialize in dental implants that help prevent bone loss and further dental issues. These implants are metal posts that we place into your jawbone, where they fuse into place and keep the bone remodeling active.
Even if you’ve lost considerable bone already, we can perform a bone-grafting procedure that will add enough bone to the area so it can support a dental implant.
As you can see, acting quickly is important after tooth loss or a tooth extraction.
To get started, contact our office in San Jose, California, by calling 408-478-9081, or you can book an appointment with us online.