One missing tooth may not seem like a serious problem – especially if it was located in a less visible area. Because people tend to emphasize the cosmetic drawbacks of tooth loss, you may not realize how it affects your overall oral health. Because the teeth surrounding an absence have less support, you could lose more teeth. An absence can also complicate how easily you can chew or bite, and even disrupt how you speak. Restoring a gap in your teeth can improve the quality of your smile, and your jaw function.
One problem with a missing tooth is that it can interfere with your eating and speaking. If your jaw movements are unnatural because of tooth loss, you could develop TMJ problems. Tooth loss is not the only contributor to TMJ dysfunction – teeth grinding, a jaw injury, and other factors can lead to it – but restoring a lost tooth can reduce your risk for developing problems.
A dental bridge can fill the space of a lost tooth. To receive a bridge, your dentist will need to place a crown on each of the surrounding teeth, which will help anchor a replacement tooth. The replacement tooth will be permanently inserted, with the crowns helping to hold it tightly enough to be used for chewing and biting. A dental implant can be placed into an empty socket, and act as a root for a dental crown. Because an implant is made from biocompatible material, it can be firmly placed in your jawbone, and offer a sturdy hold.