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Can a Missing Tooth Lead to Jaw Problems?
Those who have a are already aware of the challenges that come with the condition, including eating and the negative impact on their self-esteem. What they might not know is that a lost tooth also affects the jaw and the face in different ways. Without replacing the tooth promptly, the potential repercussions may be expensive to correct. Continue reading to learn how having a missing tooth can contribute to problems in the jaw.
The effects of missing teeth on the jaw
The tooth roots send the signals needed for the body to keep sending important minerals to keep the jawbone healthy and in form. When a tooth is missing, the jawbone in the area starts to shrink. The changes may not be obvious immediately, but patients may start to see them as the months go into years since bone loss is inevitable with tooth loss. As more teeth go missing, the jaw may weaken, causing further oral issues. The shrinking jawbone can alter facial appearance and cause wrinkles in certain parts of the face.
At first, the only noticeable sign could be that food debris gets trapped between the space, but gradually, other teeth may start to move from their position to fill the gap, causing changes in bite alignment. Soon, all the teeth in that area will be thrown off balance and the patient’s bite will change. This means the upper and lower teeth will hit each other at odd angles, increasing the risk of tooth chipping or cracking, degraded enamel and temporomandibular joint issues.
Problems with the jaw joint
Essentially, a misaligned bite causes issues with the jawbones and jaw joints (TMJ). With missing teeth, the mouth will try to compensate by using more of the healthy teeth for proper chewing. For instance, if a molar is lost on the right side of the mouth, one may resort to chewing on the left side. This puts undue stress on the teeth and jaw. The result is that patients may start to feel sore on one area of the jaw and muscle atrophy in the other area – undue stress on the temporomandibular joint, which controls jaw movement.
TMJ disorder can cause different symptoms such as headaches and lingering pain in the jaw, neck and temples. It may also cause bruxism, more commonly known as jaw clenching or teeth grinding. The dentist may recommend an oral device to help with TMJ disorder and bruxism, but if the patient has a missing tooth, they will resolve that issue first.
Visit the dentist for treatment
The teeth are essential for eating and talking, but their function is beyond that – every structure of the oral cavity works together to keep everything functional. If you have noticed signs of jaw problems and have a missing tooth, it is advisable to talk to the dentist about replacement options. They can give you options that will not only restore full dental function but ensure your smile looks just as natural as before.
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