THE HIDDEN CONSEQUENCES OF LOSING TEETH
Tooth loss is a common problem in Bulgaria, with one or more teeth missing as a result of a dental caries or its complications, or as a result of traumatic injuries. It is largely, and quite mistakenly, believed that this is not a serious problem because one has at least 27 teeth left to chew on, and the absence of one tooth would not change things to such a great extent. Unfortunately, reality is far different from that and this false belief poses a lot of risks.
Missing teeth are largely regarded as a serious problem only if their absence can be easily noticed when a person smiles. This becomes the reason for aesthetic worries as it changes one’s looks. As a result, it may affect one’s self-confidence and social contacts. However, apart from the aesthetic problem, a missing tooth may be harmful in a number of other ways…
One of the foremost functions of teeth is to chew and grind food. This process stimulates the tissues supporting the teeth in the alveoli (the sockets in the jaws in which the roots of teeth are held), and the bone in which they are rooted. These small pressures, to which the bone is subjected during eating, stimulate its constant restoration and regeneration, and thus it preserves its size and integrity.
The loss of one or more teeth leads to absence of adequate stimulation of the bone which in its turn causes bone loss. According to some studies, in the first year after the loss of a tooth, about 25% of the width of the underlying bone is lost, with another 4 mm lost over the next couple of years.
Besides, the two adjacent teeth try to eliminate the defect by leaning in the direction of the missing tooth. Thus, they are subjected to unsuitable pressure. Such pressure is no longer vertical, which may lead to even greater displacement of these teeth.
Simultaneously, the bone continues its deterioration at the place of the missing tooth, and this coupled with the disproportionate chewing pressure on the adjacent teeth may lead to their loosening, which eventually may cause them to fall out.
Sometimes the tooth which lies directly under / over the missing tooth grows further in an attempt to make contact with the opposing tooth. This process is accompanied by changes in the bone underlying the growing tooth which may lead to its eventual loss or to the need for root canal treatment in order to restore the normal chewing functions.
It should also be noted that the loss of one or more teeth affects the chewing balance, which in its turn may result in changes in the joint(s) and muscles participating in the process. Such changes are far from harmless, as they can cause pain in the masseter muscles, joint popping, headaches, neck, ear, etc. pains.
Last, but not least, of the problems brought about by tooth loss, are speech problems. They may vary from a very slight problem which most people will not even hear, to a very significant problem which annoys your interlocutors.
To sum up, a missing tooth or teeth may lead to:
- Changes in the chewing functions;
- Displacement of adjacent teeth;
- Bone loss;
- Changes in the masticatory muscles;
- Changes in joint(s);
- Impaired aesthetics;
- Impaired speech;
- Lack of confidence;
- Changes in one’s social life.
I strongly recommend to anyone who has a similar problem to visit immediately the office of their dentist because any delays may lead to a more complicated and expensive treatment.
The sole responsibility for the condition of your teeth is yours!