Did you know that even just a single missing tooth can have serious effects on both dental function and oral health? While the most obvious consequences of tooth loss may be aesthetic, it is very important to know that missing teeth can cause a number of other problems that can endanger surrounding teeth and potentially increase risks to both oral and general health. 

Fortunately, our dentists in Salisbury offer a comprehensive selection of missing teeth replacement options—including dental implants, implant dentures, and other treatments—that can successfully restore the teeth with results that feel as though the natural teeth were never lost. Restorative dentistry procedures can serve to prevent many of the possible consequences that can arise from missing teeth that go untreated, such as: 

Jawbone Loss and Gum Recession 

One or more missing teeth can lead to the degeneration of jawbone density. The natural tooth roots help stimulate bone growth in the jaw; when those roots are gone, the bone can progressively recede. This can ultimately result in destabilization of natural teeth that surround those that are missing—they may even become completely dislodged. In addition, jawbone recession can in turn lead the gums to recede, as well. With gum recession, the risk of gum disease significantly increases, which can put dental and general health at risk. 

Shifting/Misalignment of Natural Teeth 

Missing teeth cause gaps that the natural teeth surrounding them often try to fill. This movement of surrounding teeth can result in noticeable teeth misalignment, as well as bite irregularities and chewing difficulties. 

General Health Risks 

As noted above, untreated missing teeth can lead to gum disease, which has been linked to heightened risks of general health conditions such as heart disease, dementia, stroke, and certain types of cancer. 

Altered Facial Appearance 

The distance between the nose and the chin is partly determined by the teeth. If teeth remain missing in particular areas of the mouth, that distance can be reduced, ultimately leading to a “collapsing” effect. When this occurs, the balance of facial proportions can be changed and create an overall appearance that looks more aged. 

Treatment Options 

For some individuals, one or two missing teeth may not seem like a very big deal; but without some kind of restorative dental care, missing teeth can be highly detrimental in a variety of ways. The good news is that many of the associated risks listed above can be significantly reduced with treatment. 

For instance, dental implants can replace the missing teeth all the way down to the location of the root. A dental implant is designed to essentially recreate the function of a natural tooth in virtually every way. In addition to providing a natural-looking tooth replacement and improving dental function, a dental implant can also reduce the possibility of further bone loss and enhance oral health. By the same token, a solution such as implant dentures may be the recommended option in cases where a full row of teeth are missing. Implant dentures serve as a hybrid tooth replacement option, combining the many advantages of dental implants with a custom denture prosthesis. Just a few strategically placed implants can serve as the foundation for the denture, enhancing its stability and making it feel and function more like a natural set of teeth. 

If you are considering treatment to replace missing teeth, our dentists in Salisbury can help. We will be happy to explore the options that are right for your needs, goals and budget. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our practice for more information, or to schedule a consultation. 

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on February 12, 2020.