An adult should have 32 teeth (including wisdom teeth). Health Canada published a report on the dental health of Canadians in 2010 based on the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) by Statistics Canada. Although Canada is fairing much better than the rest of the world when it comes to oral health, the study showed that 6.4% of Canadians are edentulous (have no teeth) and a significant part of the population has at least 1 missing tooth.
The most common reasons for missing teeth are tooth decay (cavities), periodontal disease, eruption problems, orthodontics, prosthetics, injury/trauma, and occlusal problems.
If you lose even a single back tooth, this will cause the surrounding teeth to drift and shift towards the open space given that teeth are arranged to support each other in the jaw. This will affect the way you chew food and it will make it more difficult to clean the area, exposing you to the potential of bone loss.
When molars and premolars are lost, you will start chewing with smaller, more slender teeth that are not designed for chewing. These are uncomfortable and there is a risk of nutritional deficiencies as chewing is negatively impacted. People often ignore or postpone fixing such missing back teeth because the destabilization resulting from dental collapse takes time and signs of damage are not obvious.
Social And Psychological Impact Due To Poor Aesthetics
Losing a front tooth affects your smile. This can have a social and psychological impact as you will be self-conscious about the gap. You are likely to smile less often and to be less confident when talking to people. Many patients feel that this can even affect your ability to find work. There is a risk of facial collapse when you start losing your teeth. This is a situation where you get a “caved” look on your face compared to others in your age group who haven’t lost their teeth.
Over-eruption is a situation where a tooth opposite a missing tooth begins to adapt to the space and grows longer than usual. Teeth fit into each other like puzzles and gaps cause the opposite teeth to lose contact with their neighbours on either side. Over-eruption leads to the bite being unable to distribute force evenly among the teeth and this can lead to jaw tension, headaches, tooth breakage, fracturing, root exposure, wear, grinding, and clenching. Fracturing is particularly dangerous since the fracture can run through the tooth and into the root surface, which leaves the tooth irreplaceable.
Plaque Formation And Poor Food Impaction
As teeth move out of their original positions, they leave spaces and pockets that encourage plaque formation and where food can gather. These pockets and spaces are not easily accessible and are hard to clean. This leads to cavities, gum diseases, and bone and gum destruction. It is common for people with deep pockets to feel the need to floss all the time.
Jaw Bone Loss
If you fail to replace a missing tooth, you will suffer from jaw bone loss. Your teeth help stimulate and support the jaw bone, just like exercise helps to stimulate and support your muscles. In the same way that unused muscle becomes atrophied, and the bone that once supported your teeth will get weaker with time.
Your teeth play a role in your speech. Missing teeth and large gaps can make it difficult to pronounce some words. There is a risk of slurring, spitting, and whistling when speaking.
Other dangers of missing teeth are sinus collapse as the floor of the sinus collapses into the space left by the missing tooth, root exposure which causes sensitivity to cold and hot sensations and a greater risk of cavities, and TMJ issues like clicking, grating sounds, and popping jaw joints. Others are heart disease like clogged arteries and stroke resulting from infections and inflammation from untreated tooth decay and premature births where pregnant women have gum disease, possibly from the gum disease increasing the level labour-inducing chemicals in the body.
So, What Restoration Options Are Available?
At Smiles on Queen Dentistry, we use dental implants to replace your missing teeth. Our dental implants are completely indistinguishable from your natural teeth in both function and appearance. Other than dental implants, other services on offer include general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and orthodontics. Dr. Hung and Dr. Norsen, use state-of-the-art technology and the highest quality materials.