Missing teeth, related problems & solutions

One of the biggest dental problems that can happen to someone is the loss of a tooth. Often people consider loss of teeth insignificant. However, the fact is that apart from cosmetic problems, functional problems and a compromised chewing mechanism results due to loss of teeth.

There are several problems that can arise from loss of functional teeth:

  1. Compromised chewing efficiency
  2. Supra-eruption of opposing teeth
  3. Drifting of adjacent teeth into the space
  4. Food accumulation between the teeth which have moved
  5. Dental caries & periodontal disease in areas of food accumulation
  6. Loss of equilibrium in the chewing mechanisms - lopsided chewing patterns
  7. Loss of “alveolar” bone height in the extracted area
  8. TM Joint problems – closed bite due to loss of teeth, TMJ osteoarthritis
  9. Overloading of existing functional teeth leading to problems
10. Collapse of cheek into the space…cosmetic & functional problems - esp. increased incidence of cheekbiting
11. Frequency of accidental tongue biting & ulceration in the area of the missing tooth / teeth rises

Missing teeth can destroy the look of a person’s teeth and cause people to become self-conscious about their smile.  Although the cosmetic repercussions of missing teeth are large, the dental problems caused by missing teeth are even more problematic.  This is because the space left behind from missing teeth or a missing tooth needs to be filled to avoid teeth drifting.  Teeth drifting refer to teeth migrating to open spaces left behind by missing teeth.  To compensate for a missing tooth, the adjacent teeth will begin to shift and grow in a crooked manner to fill this space.  What results are crooked teeth that are difficult to clean, which can result in further tooth loss.

Front teeth are used for incising the food, and they give you your beautiful smile. They also support the muscles of the face - we have all seen the sagging of the face when a particular front tooth has been lost. When a front tooth is lost, the lips tend to sink-in at that position. A missing front tooth can mar your features and cause an imperfection to your charming smile.
Back teeth (the grinders) are used for chewing and for giving fullness to your cheeks. They also maintain the proper posture of the jaws - loss of teeth leads to wrinkling of the face and over closure of the lips.
Every tooth tends to erupt till it meets the opposing tooth. When this tooth is missing, the opposing tooth will over-erupt and create gaps between itself and the adjoining teeth, leading to a food-trap there. The tooth will also lose bone support, resulting in it becoming more mobile.
The tooth in the opposing arch will tend to tilt forward and try to occupy the space created by the loss of this tooth. Teeth have a tendency to move forward, and this keeps them in contact with each other. When the tooth tilts, a gap is created between the tooth and the gums and something like a pocket is created into which food can accumulate, resulting in bone loss, gum disease and tooth decay.

Bone loss also occurs with lack of stimulation from chewing in the areas of tooth loss. This creates difficulty in replacement of these missing teeth at a later stage. Due to changes in the equilibrium and pattern of chewing owing to loss of teeth, the temporo-mandibular joints (either unilaterally or bilaterally) can also get affected causing clicking and pain.

By replacing missing teeth, you will be able to restore the healthy look of your teeth and prevent further dental problems caused by missing teeth.

While replacing the missing teeth, it is important that we are able to ensure equilibrium with respect to distribution of chewing forces apart from addressing the cosmetic outcome of treatment. We follow a treatment philosophy in planning replacement of multiple missing teeth. Please visit the following link to read more:

What is the ideal time for replacement of missing teeth?

Ideally teeth, once lost / extracted, should be replaced immediately. This helps prevent bone loss (resportion) in the area and helps retain good bone. However, there are limitations in such immediate replacement. Immediate replacement of extracted teeth can be done using implants which fit into the extraction socket in an ideal manner. However, only few instances are favorable for such replacement. The other alternative is by preparing immediate removable dentures which have to be replaced after the gums in the area have healed well, usually after a period of 3 months. For a permanent replacement of missing teeth (except in case of implants), 3 months waiting period is usually mandatory for the settling down and healing of the bone and the gums in the area.

Ways of replacing missing teeth

There are three basic ways to fix a missing tooth or missing teeth:
      1. Removable dentures

      2. Fixed bridgework (crown & bridge procedures)

      3. Dental Implants