The American College of Prosthodontics reports that an estimated 120 million American adults are missing at least one tooth, and upwards of 36 million don’t have any teeth at all. Over the span of the next 20 years, it is projected that these numbers will increase.
Tooth loss happens for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes include periodontal disease, injuries to the mouth, and basic wear and tear. Whatever the cause of a missing tooth or teeth, it can have a huge impact on a person’s health and overall quality of life.
What are the effects of missing teeth? Here’s a look at some of the ways that missing teeth can impact your life.
It goes without saying that missing teeth can have a serious impact on your overall appearance. If the lost tooth is located in the front of your mouth, it’s highly visible, which can make you feel highly self-conscious. You might end up hiding your smile or avoid speaking in public because you’re afraid of what others will think about you.
Missing teeth can also change the look of your face. Your cheeks can look as if they are sunken in because there isn’t anything for them to lie against. This can eventually cause the muscles in your face to droop, making you appear older than you really are. This is particularly true if you are missing all of your teeth, but even the loss of a single tooth can impact the look of your face.
Because of the negative effects on your appearance, a lost tooth or missing teeth could end up impacting your relationships and even your career. All of these factors can end up seriously affecting your self-esteem.
Additional Tooth Loss
You might not think that missing only one tooth is a big deal; however, it can lead to more serious problems. Namely, you could end up losing more teeth. When a tooth is lost, you can actually lose some of your jawbone. Known as bone resorption, this bone loss occurs because the roots of the teeth are no longer embedded in the jaw. Eventually, the jawbone will deteriorate. When this happens, existing teeth can start to loosen and eventually fall out. Moreover, bone loss can increase the risk of gum disease, which could also cause additional tooth loss, as well as a host of other dental health problems.
Depending on which tooth or teeth are missing, your speech could be impacted. The front teeth, in particular, are used to form certain letter sounds. If they are missing, you may not be able to pronounce those sounds properly. You could develop a lisp or your speech could become slurred, which could further impact your personal relationships, your career, and give your self-esteem an even bigger hit.
Inability to Eat Certain Foods
It’s no surprise that missing teeth can prevent you from eating various types of foods. If you’re missing front teeth, you may not be able to effectively bite into certain foods, like corn on the cob, apples, or steak. If back teeth are missing, you may not be able to chew your food properly. Swallowing improperly chewed food can lead to digestive health issues.
Lost teeth can also lead to the overuse of other teeth. The extra strain could potentially impact the health of those teeth, which could increase the risk of decay, as well as additional tooth loss. Imagine not being able to eat your favorite foods because you can’t bite down and chew?
Physical pain is often associated with tooth loss. As mentioned, the muscles in your face and your jawbone can start to deteriorate. This can affect nerve endings, which can cause pain in the mouth. The pain can range from mild to severe, and it could seriously impact other aspects of your life. For example, mouth pain could end up making you miss a significant amount of work or prevent you from doing things that you really enjoy, which can seriously impact your general well-being and overall happiness.
Replacing a Missing Tooth
Fortunately, there are several tooth replacement options that will allow you to avoid all of the detrimental side effects of missing teeth. Some of the most popular tooth replacement options include dentures, bridges, and dental implants.
Dental implants are the preferred tooth replacement option. They involve placing artificial tooth roots into the jawbone. Once in place, an artificial tooth or a bridge is affixed to the implant(s). Dental implants can restore the function of your mouth and improve your self-esteem. And, with proper care, implants can last you a lifetime.
The effects of missing even just one tooth can be extremely detrimental. A lot of people avoid having missing teeth replaced because they are concerned about the cost; however, all of the negative effects of teeth can be far more costly than replacing them.
If you are missing teeth, please don’t hesitate to contact our dental office today. We offer a variety of affordable replacement options. We will gladly review all of the options that are available to you and help you decide which one is the best choice for your specific needs. The risks associated with missing teeth certainly aren’t worth the cost. Call our office today to find out how we can restore your smile and help you avoid all of the negative effects of tooth loss.