Why Do I Need to Replace a Missing Tooth?

People often ask why replacing a missing back tooth is important. After all, you have been missing this tooth for some time and “don’t miss it.” The reasons for replacing the missing tooth or teeth are many.

When the teeth are all present in your mouth the “system” is in balance. Once a tooth is removed that system no longer functions together; there is no longer a balance. What this means is that teeth begin to shift in an attempt to recreate that balance. These shifts create abnormal forces and abnormal shifts in your bite which results in a much greater potential for breakdown of other teeth. Eventually your front teeth will see the effects of a missing back tooth or teeth. I see just as much breakdown and destruction of teeth relating to bite trauma and wear as I do with breakdown from decay. The cost to replace multiple teeth due to this process will always be greater than the replacement of a single tooth.

An example of well-balanced tooth positioning which supports proper function:

Whether a single tooth is missing or multiple teeth are missing, it is important to understand the process that will develop if the problem is not addressed. Missing teeth are not just a cosmetic problem, missing teeth will eventually cause numerous other tooth related problems as well!

An example of a space where a tooth has been removed some time ago. Notice that the tooth behind the space has moved forward and is no longer parallel to the tooth in front of the space. This drifting and misalignment can cause many problems if left untreated.

Fortunately, there are many options available to address missing tooth issues such as:

  • Bridges can use the teeth either side of a space to support an artificial tooth where a tooth has been removed.

  • Dental Implants can be placed where a tooth has been removed WITHOUT involving the teeth either side of the missing tooth space.

  • Partial Dentures can replace multiple missing teeth with a REMOVABLE appliance that is less expensive than permanent options for replacing the missing teeth.

Thanks to Research Triangle Dental’s Dr. Mark Walker for preparing this article concerning missing teeth.