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Why You Should Never Ignore a Missing Tooth

If, like 178 million Americans, you’re missing at least one tooth, you might be tempted to let it go, especially if it isn't visible when you smile. However, ignoring a missing tooth can lead to other dental problems. 

Jeffrey Barrera, DDS, and the team at Arbours Aesthetic Dentistry in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, encourage you to seek immediate dental treatment if you lose an adult tooth. Your teeth work together, and missing just one tooth can cause various problems, including:

Bone loss

The roots of your teeth stimulate bone growth in your jaw, which maintains a strong and stable foundation for your teeth. When you lose a tooth, bony jaw tissue in the affected area weakens and thins. 

Bone loss in your jaw can affect the appearance of your face, as your jawbone weakens and recedes and your cheeks begin to sink. Bone loss in your jaw also affects the placement and stability of your remaining teeth.

Tooth misalignment

Your teeth are anchored by their roots and your jawbone. When you have a missing tooth and subsequent bone loss, your teeth can drift out of place or twist in their sockets. Even the tooth above or below the empty socket can shift out of place. 

Over time, your shifting teeth can push your bite out of alignment, which causes visible crookedness in your teeth and problems with biting and chewing. 

Alignment problems also increase the wear-and-tear on the enamel that helps protect your teeth from decay. Your teeth can weaken, and your risk of breaking a tooth while you chew increases.

Even more missing teeth

The bone loss in your jaw caused by a missing tooth affects the security of your other teeth. As your jaw weakens and thins, your remaining teeth can become loose and eventually fall out. Ignoring a missing tooth creates the chance for even more tooth loss, exacerbating the problem. 

Gum disease

A missing tooth can affect your gum health. Your gums surround and support the foundation of your teeth and protect the roots of your teeth from the bacteria that lead to tooth decay. 

Gaps in your smile allow bacteria to penetrate your gums, causing gum disease and recession. Gum disease opens the door to bacterial infections, tartar buildup, and even more tooth loss.

Choose dental implants

You have many options to replace missing teeth, including bridges and dentures, but we often recommend dental implants

Implants replace the entire tooth with a titanium post that acts as the tooth root, a ceramic crown that replaces the visible part of the tooth, and an abutment that connects them. Dental implants look and act just like natural teeth. No one knows you have a false tooth unless you tell them. 

The titanium post bonds with your jawbone in a process known as osseointegration. It stimulates your jaw, supporting the healthy bone growth necessary to keep your remaining natural teeth stable and healthy. 

Dental implants not only look and function like natural teeth, but they don't require special care. With dentures, you need messy adhesives and special cleaning solutions. With dental implants, you simply brush and floss them along with your natural teeth. 

While your implant isn't vulnerable to decay, you still need to have routine dental appointments so we can monitor your remaining natural teeth and your gum health. 

Whether you're missing one or all of your teeth, call our office or request an appointment online to learn more about dental implants and get the expert dental care you need to protect your dental health and your smile. 

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