Losing a tooth is bad enough, whether you have to have it extracted or it simply falls out on its own. Unfortunately, that's not all you could be facing if you've had a tooth fall out and haven't had it replaced yet. Without replacement, you could be looking at continuing problems with your oral health and jaw in the years to come. Here's what you could be facing.
1. Shifting Teeth
One of the first problems that will start to develop is that your nearby remaining teeth will start to shift. This is because each tooth plays a role in holding up its neighbors in place, but when just one tooth is lost, that ability is also lost. The teeth on either side may start to lean over towards where the missing tooth once was. This can make your teeth appear crooked and can make it more difficult to get a tooth replacement when the time comes.
2. Weakening Jaw
Another big problem that losing a tooth causes is that it makes your jaw weaker. This is because teeth do more than just help you to chew. The upper surface of the tooth that's exposed helps to chew, but it's what goes on underneath in the root that's so important. If you think about a guitar string, a pluck anywhere on the string travels across the entire thing. The way that you bite down on a tooth is similar. The pressure sent down into the tooth from your bite travels through the structure of the tooth and into the jaw, where the pressure stimulates the bone.
When everything goes right, this makes the bone grow new bone cells to replace old ones, and keeps your jaw bone looking strong and healthy. Without those teeth, though, this process comes to a halt and the bone starts to grow thinner and weaker as a result.
What to Do
The good news is that you can stop all of this no matter how long you've been without a tooth. The answer is dental implants. Dental implants mimic real teeth. They let you chew on them and use as much pressure as you like, as with a real tooth; they hold up their neighboring teeth, and most importantly, they transfer pressure to the jaw so your bones stay strong. Dental implants are the solution that you need, so seek out a dentist and start working towards getting them.