The empty space that’s created by a missing tooth sets off a chain reaction of dental problems that affects your entire mouth.
Unbalanced bite. Your teeth support and depend on each other. When one is lost, the teeth next to it-or the ones facing the space from the opposite jaw- may drift or twist out of their normal positions. This results in an unbalanced bite (malocclusion), puts harmful stress on teeth and jaws, and can promote gum disease.
Chewing stress. When teeth aren’t properly aligned, stressful chewing pushes teeth even more out of line and will eventually wear down the bone and gum tissues that hold all your teeth in place.
Decay and disease. It may be difficult to properly clean teeth that have drifted out of position. Plaque (the film of bacteria that forms on teeth) collects in hard-to-reach areas and if not removed with thorough brushing and flossing, can lead to the loss of even more teeth.
Appearance. Besides the effect a missing front tooth ahs on your smile, consider how a missing back tooth encourages existing teeth to become crowded or crooked. The loss of back teeth can also make your mouth sink in so your face looks older. It takes a full set of healthy teeth to keep your mouth in good shape so you look your best.
What about when my child loses baby teeth?
Usually, children lose primary (baby) teeth naturally as the permanent teeth under them get ready to take their place.
But sometimes a primary tooth is lost too early from an accident. Since primary teeth reserve space for incoming permanent teeth, loosing one too early can cause other teeth to shift towards the empty space (1). Then there may not be enough room for permanent teeth to come in. The result can be malocclusion that requires time-consuming orthodontic treatment.
Space maintainers. Your dentist may recommend a space maintainer for your child. Made of metal or plastic, these devices hold the space for permanent teeth until they’re ready to erupt (2).
How will my dentist replace my missing teeth?
There are a variety of ways for a dental professional to restore and replace teeth. Each is designed to prevent malocclusion, decay, and disease while improving your chewing ability, speech, and appearance.
Crowns. In some situations, your dentist may recommend a crown to cover or “cap” a damaged tooth, restoring it to its normal shape and size.
Gold Crown Porcelain crown
Fixed bridges. Sometimes called a fixed partial denture, a fixed bridge is a permanent device that replaces one or more missing teeth. Your dentist will cement it into place and attach it to the neighboring teeth for support (3,4).
Removable partial denture. When a fixed bridge is not possible, your dentist may replace missing teeth with a removable bridge. It may be held in place with clasps that surround your natural teeth.
Remember, replacing even one missing tooth can help maintain your good looks and your dental health!
Replacing missing teeth is one of the most important functions your dentist provides. But, while most people will immediately take action if they lose a front tooth, some put off taking care of a missing back tooth because it’s less obvious.
Any missing tooth in your mouth can lead to serious dental problems, so it’s essential to see your dentist if you lose one- the sooner, the better.
BRUSH with a soft toothbrush, like the specially designed Colgate® PLUS Toothbrush. Tip it at a 45° angle toward your gumline and brush gently with a short back-and-fourth scrubbing motion. Brush just a couple of teeth at a time on the outside, inside, and on chewing surfaces. And be sure to replace your brush every 3-4 months. To help prevent ugly tartar build-up, use Colgate® Tartar Control Toothpaste or Gel.
FLOSS daily using about 18” of floss wrapped around your middle fingers and leaving about two inches to work with. Gently scrape the side of each tooth away from the gum. And, don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.
RINSE for about one minute every day with a mouthwash such as Colgate® Tartar Control Mouthwash which effectively reduces the formation of tartar above the gumline.