While more and more Americans are keeping all their teeth, tooth loss still happens and there are consequences – none of which are good.
First of all, teeth support each other, like good neighbors. When one tooth is lost, the teeth next to the vacated spot begin to shift. This can lead to problems with chewing and cleaning. Once remaining teeth begin to tilt, food can get trapped in gaps between the teeth and the gum. This can contribute to both tooth decay and periodontal, or gum, disease.
When teeth are lost, the pressure of chewing is thrown off and can make eating difficult. Teeth bearing an inordinate amount of pressure in the new chewing pattern may shift and eventually loosen.
You may also notice a change in the sound of words you speak.
If you do lose a tooth, your dentist can advise you on whether a bridge – an artificial tooth fastened to neighboring teeth – or an implant may be right for you. The best advice, though, is to keep your natural teeth through a regimen of good oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist.