Are you missing a tooth? If so, you’re not alone — you’re one of around 120 million Americans who are. Tooth loss is much more common than most people think. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

Missing teeth, particularly any of the front ones, can be an embarrassing distraction from an otherwise lovely smile, but tooth loss isn’t just an aesthetic problem. Did you know that missing teeth can actually open up your mouth to further oral health risks?

Missing Teeth Pose Oral Health Risks

Other Teeth Could Move

Your teeth’s stability is dependent on more than just healthy gums and a strong root. In fact, your teeth depend a lot on each other. Each tooth relies on the support of its neighbors for strength. That means that when one or more of your teeth loses a neighbor, it compromises that tooth’s strength, too. This is why sometimes when you lose a tooth, nearby teeth can shift to try and fill that space.

Unfortunately, this can lead to gaps between teeth, and can allow teeth to shift into positions that aren’t healthy. Too much rearranging of the teeth in your mouth and you might end up with a bad bite, known more formally as malocclusion. Malocclusion can have a host of negative effects, including jaw pain, excessive tooth wear, headaches, and even stress on the temporomandibular joints that could lead to TMJ.

Remaining Teeth Are Under Pressure

Another way your teeth work together is in even distribution of the pressure from chewing. If you lose a few teeth, the remaining teeth may then be under additional pressure, since that pressure isn’t being evenly distributed anymore. (Incidentally, this can also happen as a result of a bad bite, which can cause teeth to fit together incorrectly.)

For example, losing a back molar may look alright in terms of smile aesthetics, but those back teeth take on a lot of the heavy duty chewing work. With one gone, the others will have to shoulder more work. This can lead to excessive tooth wear, and can even cause chips or cracks.

Oral Hygiene Gets Harder

If you’ve lost a tooth or two as a result of gum disease or decay, it’s possible that oral hygiene was already a challenge for you. The bad news is, once you’re missing teeth, it gets even harder. Those gaps between teeth can make it easy for food and debris to get caught, giving bacteria a safe haven to feed and form plaque. It can also become more challenging to reach all the nooks and crannies of your teeth with a toothbrush.

Protect Your Remaining Teeth

If you’ve lost one tooth, you’re at an increased risk for losing more. But tooth replacement options, especially dental implants, can restore the function as well as the beauty of your smile. And they can protect your remaining teeth from these complications.

A missing tooth or two won’t just compromise the beauty of your smile — it could also compromise your oral health. If you’re missing teeth in Rancho Mirage, we can help. Call (760) 832-7915 or contact us online to make an appointment with an implant dentist and learn about your options for filling in the gaps.