Losing a tooth or several teeth can result from a variety of problems. Injury, birth defects, or decay can all lead to tooth loss. Tooth loss or removal can also cause additional dental complications and overall health concerns.
When tooth loss causes the alignment of remaining teeth to shift, it can impair a person’s ability to properly chew food. If most or all teeth are lost, chewing is virtually impossible, restricting ones diet to soft foods that don’t require chewing. A soft food diet is unable to meet the nutritional requirements of the body. This malnourishment can lead to constipation, arthritis, indigestion, and rheumatism. Teeth are essential tools to meeting the nutritional needs of the body.
Our teeth play a significant role in our speech ability. Sounds from letters like s, z, d, x, n, th, and sh, are formed by tongue-to-tooth contact. These and other sounds are not easily made if you are missing your teeth and can cause a person to speak with a lisp. This can be an embarrassing speech abnormality that can at times be difficult to understand. After tooth loss, your tongue will expand to fill the additional space within your mouth. A thickened tongue is more difficult to control, impairing pronounciation and causing a person’s speech to be difficult to understand.
Bone loss in the jaw bone
Your teeth and bite provide important stimulation to your jaw bone. When a tooth is lost, the alveolar bone that formerly supported the tooth no longer receives that stimulation via biting and chewing. The bone begins to deteriorate from lack of use and is reabsorbed by the body. This deterioration begins almost immediately after tooth loss and persists throughout a person’s life, although the rates of deterioration vary greatly between individuals. Once deteriorated to a certain point, prosthetic devices such as dentures are no longer useful as there is not enough bone structure to hold them in place.
Misalignment of teeth occurs when remaining teeth do not have an opposing structure (top and bottom pairings) to meet. Without the oppositional force from a lost paired tooth, the remaining tooth can become loose. The bone supporting the remaining teeth may also deteriorate from lack of stimulation. The loss of just one tooth can have a domino affect on all those remaining, causing them to shift and potentially altering your bite, which can cause head, neck, and jaw pain.
Your teeth provide the structure that shapes lips and cheeks. If teeth are missing from a mouth, the flesh of your lips and cheeks do not have any support. When you close your remaining jaw structure, the exterior of your mouth and face will appear “sunken in,” which significantly ages an individual’s appearance.