The Truth About Living with a Missing Tooth

Posted on: 13 January 2020

Can you live with a missing tooth? Broadly speaking, yes you can, although that isn't the whole truth. While it might be your choice to do nothing about a missing tooth, it doesn't mean that this should be your default course of action. There can be unfortunate consequences to living with a missing tooth, which is why it's not something that you should simply put up with.

An Obvious Gap

If the missing tooth is obvious anytime you smile or speak, then having it replaced is clearly going to be a priority. Nobody is going to want to have such an obvious gap when they open their mouth. But if it happens to be a rear molar, then it's not as though anyone will notice the gap so easily. This doesn't mean that out of sight should be out of mind.

The Primary Function of Teeth

Your teeth are configured to provide a fairly even distribution of force when performing their primary function (such as your incisors tearing food into bite-sized chunks and your molars then chewing those chunks to allow you to swallow and digest them). When a tooth is missing, its leftover comrades need to take on extra work because they will need to compensate for that missing tooth by exerting more bite pressure than they should have to. This can mean that they will wear out more quickly, even though this is something that will take place over several years.

How You Consume and Digest Food

All it takes is a single missing tooth to reconfigure how you consume food. You might not even be aware of it, but your chewing can subtly change to the point that you're swallowing food that has not been adequately masticated. This can present a choking hazard, but it's more likely to put undue strain on your digestive system. It's as though your stomach is receiving nutritious food that has not been adequately prepared (via sufficient chewing). 

Replacing the Tooth

You can certainly live with a missing tooth, but you shouldn't, at least not in the long term. Talk to your dentist about your replacement options, whether it's a dental implant, a fixed dental bridge, or partial dentures (either with a rigid or a flexible base). 

Your overall oral health will eventually be compromised by a missing tooth, and taking action now will help to prevent these problems in the future. To learn more about tooth replacement, contact a dentist in your area.