Whether you've lost a tooth due to dental disease, injury, or something else, you probably think that the worst is over. Unfortunately, people who have lost one or more teeth are typically not at the end of their journey just yet. There are potentially more problems that you could experience simply because you have one or more teeth missing. Here's what you need to know about your missing tooth's potential impact on your health and what you can do to keep it from happening to you.
Something that can happen after someone loses a tooth is them losing more teeth. Unfortunately, there are several different reasons for this, and it's difficult to combat all of them at home.
One of the most common triggers is poor oral hygiene. Losing a tooth means that your surrounding teeth have much more of their surface area exposed. Instead of a tiny crack of space between your teeth accumulating food and plaque, now the entire side of the tooth is constantly exposed to whatever you're eating.
Secondly, losing a tooth means that your remaining teeth have to pick up the slack. When your teeth rest against each other or you grind them together, the two teeth on either side of the gap take on extra pressure that was normally handled by the now-missing tooth. This can increase your risk of losing your teeth.
Your teeth aren't the only things that suffer when you lose a tooth. Losing a tooth has a significant impact on the bones in your jaw, too.
Your teeth and your jaw actually work in tandem. Your jaw is what allows you to chew, and when you do, pressure from that chewing moves down your teeth into the jaw. This triggers a mechanism where your jaw grows new bone cells to replace the old ones. However, this process relies upon every single tooth in your mouth to work properly.
When one or more teeth go missing, they no longer send pressure to the bone beneath or above them, depending on whether it's a lower or upper tooth. This part of the bone will gradually begin to weaken and thin out as a result, increasing your risk for bone fractures.
Preventing These Problems
At home on your own, there's no way to prevent these issues from happening to you. However, with the help of a dentist, these issues can be treated and prevented.
The best way to go about this is to replace the missing tooth entirely. A dental implant can take its place individually, and performs all the same actions as a real tooth, like transmitting pressure. Once your dental implant is in place, your neighboring teeth will be better protected, and you'll no longer be at risk of having thinning bone. Talk to your dentist for more information about dental implants.