New year, new tooth?
A new year is here and many of us may already be in the midst of resolutions for a healthier, more positive, and promising year. How about adding a resolution to replace a missing tooth, or fix a damaged one this year? It might be one of the best resolutions you can still make to improve your overall health!
If you are missing a permanent tooth, you’re not alone. The average American loses 12 teeth, including their wisdom teeth, by the time they reach 50. And about 69% of us have already lost at least one permanent tooth between the ages of 35 and 44.
OK, so aside from aesthetically challenging selfies, what’s the big deal with a missing tooth or so?
Plenty. Every tooth you lose can negatively affect your overall health, and the longer you wait to replace it, the greater your risk for losing even more teeth, as well as other issues.
If you’re missing a tooth, or teeth, and you haven’t replaced it for a while, here are some of the risks you should be aware of, besides cosmetic concerns.
- More Serious Health Issues – The longer you wait to replace a missing tooth, the greater your risk for getting gum disease, which studies show can lead more serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and even cancer. How does a missing tooth lead to gum disease? Through the open pocket, which was once home to your existing tooth. This now becomes an easy entry for bacteria to enter your gums. And these bacteria will eventually lead to gum disease which can promote loose teeth, tooth loss, and bone loss.
- Bone Loss – Your teeth, just like your body, need healthy bones. A strong jaw bone secures your teeth and keeps them in place. Just as exercising helps maintain your muscle tone, chewing food stimulates the bone density of your jaw. But when you have a missing tooth, this can trigger bone loss in your jaw, because the missing gap in your mouth no longer has another tooth to make contact with to stimulate the bone. This void will eventually lead to the deterioration of the jawbone is this area, and can lead to the weakening of surrounding teeth.
- Losing More Teeth – A missing tooth can have a domino effect on the health of your surrounding teeth. In fact, recent studies show that a missing tooth can increase your risk of losing more teeth by over 30%.
- Make Your Teeth More Crooked – Whenever you lose a tooth, this can cause neighboring teeth to start shifting towards the empty space. Teeth which were once straight now become crooked because of that missing tooth. This may also cause dental hygiene issues, as your teeth crowd into one another, making it harder to effectively floss your teeth, which promotes sticky bacteria forming on your teeth, leading to gum disease.
- Bruxism & Jaw Disorders – As your teeth shift, this may change the way they come together when you bite. If your bite is off, it can promote bruxism, a habitual grinding of the teeth, or a jaw disorder such as TMJ disorder. Either of these cause harmful side effects like damage to the enamel of your teeth, tension headaches, or tooth sensitivity.
A missing tooth affects more than just the look of your smile. It can put your overall health at risk, and also lead to more serious, and costly, dental issues.
If you’re missing a tooth, and it’s been a while, consider making an appointment with us to learn about some tooth replacement options, like dental implants. Unlike dentures, dental implants look, feel and function like your natural teeth. And because they’re durable, they also provide a long-term option. When you need to replace a tooth, we’ll help you find the right option. Just call us for a tooth replacement consult at (206) 524-1000, or request an appointment online.