How the Location of a Missing Tooth Impacts Your Oral Health

Let’s get the harsh truth out of the way first: unless you’re still young enough to believe in the tooth fairy, losing a tooth is a serious problem. No matter whether you lose a molar or an incisor, one tooth or several teeth, a lack of proper dentition will have a negative impact on your oral health and overall well-being. Today, we’re looking at how location can impact the types of problems you can expect to experience.

Missing Posterior (Back) Tooth

Depending on whom you talk to, the posterior or back teeth could include solely the premolars and molars or the molars, premolars, and the bicuspids. These teeth are primarily responsible for chewing food to aid in swallowing and digesting. In addition, the posterior teeth provide support for the cheeks. If you lose a back tooth, you can expect to experience one or more of the following side effects:

  • Difficulty chewing or tendency to chew with one side of the mouth, leading to increased wear on that side.
  • Lack of support could cause the facial muscles to fall inward, giving your face a sunken look.
  • The remaining teeth will naturally drift toward the open space created by the missing tooth. Known as dental drift, this phenomenon can cause uneven, tight, or gaped teeth and can even throw off a normally healthy bite. Misalignment and spacing issues could lead to TMJ disorder.
  • As the jawbone underlying the missing tooth resorbs into the body, it can weaken the support structure of neighboring teeth, increasing the risk of further tooth loss.

Missing Anterior (Front) Tooth

From a purely functional perspective, the front teeth are meant to bite and tear your food and to assist in the pronunciation of certain key sounds necessary for normal speech. From a non-vital but still very important perspective, our front teeth show when we smile and, in addition to helping us communicate a wide range of emotions, they play a role in how we feel about ourselves. A few side effects of losing a front tooth include:

  • Difficulty biting into certain foods, especially whole cuts of meat (like steak or ribs), hard crunchy fruits and veggies, or chewy breads like pizza crust or bagels.
  • Difficulty pronouncing sounds like t, th (both hard and soft), s, d, f, n, v, and z.
  • Embarrassment when smiling or speaking. Many people with missing front teeth either cover their mouths when they smile or simply avoid smiling altogether.
  • Like lost back teeth, lost front teeth will also lead to sunken lips and cheeks, dental drift, and a higher risk for further missing teeth.

About Shawn Hofkes, DDS

With advanced training in oral and maxillofacial surgery and certification in oral and IV sedation, Shawn Hofkes, DDS provides a complete range of solutions for missing teeth, including dental bridges and dental implants from our state-of-the-art dentist office in Cerritos, CA. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.