An estimated 178 million Americans have one or more missing teeth, according to the American College of Prosthodontists, and approximately 40 million are missing all of them. In a healthy mouth that has no missing teeth, the tooth roots are supported by the jawbone. However, when teeth are missing, the jawbone begins to slowly shrink. Over time, this shrinkage can lead to a reduction in facial support. With every tooth lost, there is a gradual reduction in bone and facial muscle support. This can ultimately impact a person’s appearance.
Atrophy of the Lower Jawbone
Atrophy is a common occurrence when multiple teeth are missing. This term refers to the partial or complete wasting away of a body part. For example, if you were to break your leg and were unable to walk for several months, the muscles in the affected leg would likely shrink due to non-use.
The same concept applies to the mouth when there are missing teeth. If you just have one or two missing, this shrinkage is probably not noticeable. However, when you’re missing many or all of your teeth, it can cause major shrinkage and the weakening of the jawbone.
A weak jawbone can lead to other oral health risks, including further tooth loss. Atrophy can also limit a patient’s ability to restore their smile. Dental bridges and dental implants are often not suitable for patients with weak jawbones. When the jawbone is not strong enough for permanent restorative dental options, dentures may be the only solution.
You Might Have an Uncomfortable Bite
Just a single missing tooth can impact your bite. To compensate for the missing tooth, the other teeth may start to shift to fill in the gap. Shifting of teeth can cause your teeth to hit one another in the wrong spots when talking or eating. Cracks and chips in the teeth are also more common.
Sinus Cavity Issues
Problems with the sinus cavities can also occur when teeth are missing. Changes in the size of the jawbone can cause the sinus cavity to pull closer to the teeth. Although this might not always cause a problem, patients who later want to get dental implants may require a sinus lift.
Collapse of the Facial Structures
One of the most noticeable effects of missing teeth is the collapse of the facial structures. Shrinking jawbones can cause the face to appear shorter than it was previously. The lower jawbone can also start to rotate forward, impacting the look of the face.
The muscles around the lips may also be affected. Due to a lack of support, these muscles can shrink, creating wrinkles around the lips. The upper lip may appear more pronounced which can then make the nose look bigger in comparison.
Schedule an Appointment Today To Discuss How Missing Teeth Can Affect Your Jaw and Smile
Your teeth play an important role in eating, speaking, and the way you look. If you are missing one or more teeth, know that you have options. Contact Vero Elite Dentistry to learn more about our restorative and cosmetic dental solutions.