The Effects Of Leaving A Gap In Your Teeth
People lose teeth for all sorts of reasons – sometimes it is a knock to the tooth, or tooth decay, or gum disease or a combination of all of the above, or a history of a large filling which then breaks down. Whatever the reason, the tradition in Scotland has often been just to ‘pull’ a failing tooth and think no more about it. However, there are consequences! Every time we lose a tooth, we also lose the surrounding bone, known as the alveolar bone. This bone only exists to support our teeth, and when we lose a tooth, not only can some of the bone come with it, but then our body’s own cells start to reshape the bone down to the hard basal bone of the jaw.
This is important because losing alveolar bone can limit the options for replacing teeth in the future. In addition, the reduced bone can then provide less support for the surrounding teeth and the teeth on either side of the gap can tilt or lose their position. If there is an opposing tooth which is then left opposite the gap with nothing to bite onto, a phenomenon called Overeruption can occur. This has nothing to do with volcanoes and is not a sudden event, but over the years, the body will push the unopposed tooth out of the jaw bone in a ‘search’ for something to bite against. Teeth grow until they meet something, whether it is another tooth, the gum on the other jaw, or in some cases a strong tongue position can keep a tooth in place. But an overerupted tooth can cause problems. More of the tooth is exposed than was intended which can cause increased sensitivity and risk of decay. The tooth can then get in the way of chewing which can lead to an altered jaw movement which in turn can lead to muscle pain, jaw stiffness or headaches.
Of course, there are also appearance or cosmetic issues with leaving a gap. Sometimes, we don’t notice how we look from the front, but from a conversational or side on view which is what people see when we are talking in company, it can be quite obvious.
Before losing any tooth, it is important to consider what the consequences may be in the short and long term, and what the options for replacing the tooth may be. At Cherrybank Dental Spa in Perth and Edinburgh, that is what we help you consider so that you can either make the decision to save the tooth, or to accept the consequences, or to replace it and keep the chewing and appearance benefits intact!
Last updated May 2nd, 2018