If you’ve lost a tooth, especially one that’s not visible to others when you speak or smile, you might think you can slide by without replacing it. The gap in your jaw may feel weird for a while, but you could get used to it. This, however, is not the case. Not replacing a missing tooth can have serious physical and mental consequences. The replacement process is not nearly as difficult as most people think, and it will pay off in the long run.
Failing to replace a missing tooth can lead to long-term problems both inside and outside your mouth. Over time, the teeth next to the missing tooth will shift toward each other in an attempt to fill the gap. This will lead to a condition called malocclusion, which means that the teeth are not aligned properly. Malocclusion can cause serious problems, such as an overbite or crossbite, which will result in extra jaw strain and difficulty chewing. These conditions can also increase your risk for tooth decay. The treatment for this condition is surgery or braces—both of which will be more expensive than the tooth replacement.
Similarly, missing teeth can result in not chewing your food properly, both consciously and unconsciously. This may lead to digestive issues, such as acid reflux and malnutrition from nutrients not being properly absorbed in the digestive tract. While it may seem like a back molar hidden from view does not need to be replaced, remember that those teeth are an essential part of chewing and digestion.
Missing teeth can also cause bone loss along the jawline, which may lead to a sagging appearance around the mouth. The bone tissue will no longer receive support from the tooth, so it will weaken over time.
Replacing a missing tooth is no longer the ordeal it was several years ago. Dental implants consist of a titanium post covered by a crown or denture, and the process typically takes around three months from start to finish. This include plenty of tie for your mouth to adjust to the implant and heal before the crown or denture is applied. The end result is a tooth that looks and feels just like the one you lost.