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The Effects of Tooth Loss

The Masticatory System

The masticatory system is the functional unit of the organism that in addition to being in charge of chewing, is responsible for speech and swallowing.  It is made up of bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and teeth.  For this reason, the loss of a tooth, either due to a physical blow or as a result of oral disease, seriously affects the functionality and aesthetics of the smile.

The Main Causes of Tooth Loss

The main causes leading to tooth loss are: dental caries – a multifactorial and infectious chronic disease since, which when not treated with preventive or curative means, continues to advance, affecting the dental pulp. Deep dental destruction as a result of caries leads to tooth extraction. Periodontal disease is a progressive disease that begins with gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).  In an advanced stage it affects the periodontal ligament and the bone that surrounds the teeth, these being the supporting structures of the teeth, producing dental mobility, pain and abscesses. Traumatisms: when receiving a strong impact it is possible to completely lose a tooth, and even if we do not have a partial or total fracture, the internal structure of the tooth can be compromised affecting the nerve. Tooth wear, due to poor occlusion or bruxism, if not treated in time, can progress to cause total tooth loss.

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Tooth Loss has many Ramifications for one’s Dental and Overall Health

The Effects of Losing Teeth

The main concern when one or more teeth are lost is usually aesthetic, however, there are multiple changes that affect the mouth and our health. As is the case of some functional alterations, for example, phonation problems when pronouncing some sounds correctly and also chewing problems, causing complications when grinding food, often being insufficient and forcing the stomach to perform part of the work that our mouth should do.  If there is a lack of teeth on one side of the mouth, we have to stop chewing on that side, forcing the rest of the teeth and causing greater wear in the area, the gums also suffer more when there is tooth loss, since the food is deposited in the space left by the tooth and when chewing the support and force is completely carried out by the gum, with the consequent wear of it.

Tooth Leads to Bone Loss

In the same way, when teeth are extracted, the bone that supports them tends to shrink over time. This process is called resorption and is a natural consequence of the lack of stimulation to the bone by the forces exerted on the teeth. Resorption of alveolar bone (the bone that supports the teeth) begins almost as soon as the tooth is extracted and continues over time. Bone loses both height and width through resorption. When multiple teeth are lost, with or without prostheses to replace them, significant jaw bone loss can occur.

Migration of Neighboring Teeth

In addition, the loss of one or more teeth in one segment of the mouth can cause neighboring tooth migration, in which the adjacent teeth lean into the empty space where the teeth were lost. Similarly, the loss of a tooth or teeth may cause the opposing teeth to shift as they migrate downward or upward into the open space. Likewise, a normal occlusion presents a regulated and coordinated masticatory scheme, with rhythm, amplitude of movement and a certain way of grinding the food. This occlusal scheme has a certain degree of tolerance.  Before certain variations, it finds a new neuromuscular balance, but if the variations are from medium to extreme, as happens when there is tooth loss, the balance is broken and parafunctional chewing movements appear that are harmful to the TMJ and for all the elements of the system, causing episodes of very painful dysfunction.

Prevention Recommendations

We can determine that there are several causes of dental loss, which cause negative consequences not only in the structures of the chewing apparatus, but also affect the aesthetics of the face. For this reason, it is necessary to understand the importance of  preserving teeth and identifying all the factors associated with tooth loss. Based on this, we issue the following recommendations for prevention: maintain oral hygiene: brushing, being essential, is not enough. In addition to brushing a minimum of 3 times a day, it should be accompanied by the use of dental floss and the regular renewal of the brush. Frequent visits to the dentist: even if we do not have any obvious problems, one or two visits a year can make the difference between diagnosing a problem in time or having to treat it when it is already advanced, with dental implants for example.

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    October 23, 2022 Blog, Dental Implants
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