If you have lost any of your teeth, you might be noticing some negative effects. Your smile or speech may change, you may feel less confident, and eating may become more difficult. Although these are serious issues, they are not the only hidden consequences of tooth loss. Here are a few others:
The biggest consequence people face when they lose teeth is that, inevitably, bone loss will follow tooth loss. The jawbone needs stimulation in order to maintain its density, and this stimulation comes from the teeth. To put it simply, when you use your teeth, you’re stimulating your jawbone to reshape and continually rebuild itself.
When you lose one or some of your teeth, this stimulation is lost with the teeth. This means that your jawbone will slowly decrease in density due to a lack of stimulation. This can result in a 25 percent loss of bone density in the first year after losing teeth, with an additional four millimeters in the following years.
If you are experiencing bone loss in your jawbone, some other unforeseen occurrences may also be happening. If you’ve lost teeth and are now in the process of losing jawbone density, you may notice that some everyday functions of your mouth aren’t quite what they used to be. Bone density loss can affect the way you speak and eat, and the more teeth you lose, the more damaging the effects.
Eventually, the alveolar and then the basal bone – both of which support the teeth – begin to be reabsorbed through bone loss. The distance between the tip of your nose and your chin will decrease, which creates a collapsed look. Many people who lose teeth appear to have a sagging or collapsed chin and jawline due to loss of bone density. Unfortunately, this loss of density in the jawbone can also make someone more prone to jaw fractures, which is no laughing matter.
When a person loses their bone density due to tooth loss, they can also suffer from bite collapse. Your back teeth are in charge of chewing your food and maintaining the vertical structure of your face. When you lose teeth, this structure is compromised. Your cheeks will take on a hollow look like your front teeth – unused to maintaining the vertical height of your face – are pushed forward. Again, this will make a person appear as if the lower half of their face is collapsing in on itself.
There’s another negative effect associated with this process. If you lose a tooth at one point along your jawbone, your other teeth may change position in order to compensate for the loss. This slow shift of teeth can create even more issues in the everyday functioning of your mouth and may even cause excessive jaw joint pain.
When your teeth shift to make up for tooth loss, they open up more space. Food can get caught more easily in these wider spaces, and this makes a person susceptible to further tooth decay.
Losing a tooth is also hard on its antagonist, which is the other tooth on the opposite side of the jawbone. Without a familiar point of contact, this opposing tooth with shift around, causing gum recession or further tooth loss. When you lose teeth, you are also putting a heavier workload on your remaining teeth, which can cause accelerated wear and tear on them.
As you can see, time is of the essence when it comes to tooth loss. The sooner you get a handle on the situation, the easier it is to solve. The longer you wait to get your tooth loss issue fixed, the more damage is done. Implants, bridges, and dentures can help restore a youthful look to the face and, most importantly, restore normal function.
Regardless of whether your tooth loss is due to an accident, poor oral hygiene or eating habits, harmful behavior like grinding your teeth, eating ice, or opening things with your teeth, it is possible to get back on track.
Ask your dentist about your tooth loss and the possible courses of action. Professionals like those at Elevate Dental can help you get your mouth back on track.