Lost A Tooth To Extraction? Here's Why You Need To Fill That Hole

Dentists, such as Quality Dental Care, try hard to save natural teeth whenever possible. But sometimes a tooth is so damaged -- due to either trauma or decay -- that there is no option but to extract the tooth. It might be tempting to simply leave the now empty space as it is, instead of paying big for a replacement. But there are some serious potential problems when leaving a tooth gap.

Bone Loss

Natural teeth sit in sockets within the alveolar bone. The teeth are connected to the bone with tiny ligaments, which also serve a secondary purpose of stimulating that underlying bone during routine mouth movements, such as chewing. A missing tooth doesn't stimulate the bone, which can lead to the bone actually eroding over time.

The bone loss can impact the health of neighboring teeth, which can begin to shift or sink in the direction of the hole. If you have a number of missing teeth, the bone loss can also create a sunken in appearance to your mouth that causes you to look far older than your actual age.

Misaligned Bite

As mentioned above, an empty extraction site leaves room for neighboring teeth to collapse into the hole. The shifting of a tooth or two might not seem like a big problem. But the teeth rarely shift into a spot exactly parallel to where they started. And this can make for a misaligned bite.

"Bite" refers to the way your teeth come together when eating or simply holding your mouth shut. An overbite, for example, refers to front teeth that protrude over the lower teeth. Shifting front teeth can create an overbite or underbite. But forward or rear teeth shifts can create a crossbite, which means that the teeth lean in, out or both compared to the connecting teeth when you bite.

A crossbite can make it difficult to chew or hold your mouth closed. This can lead to headaches, jaw pain and a lowered quality of daily life.

Gum Disease

The risk of gum disease increases when you have missing teeth. The sockets where the teeth once resided are now tiny pockets in which bacteria can take hold. This can be true even if you try to practice good oral health but accidentally neglect that pocket area.

Minor gum disease is easily treated through a visit to a dentist. But severe gum disease can lead to gum recession, recurrent infections and advanced decay of existing teeth. The potential infections can spread to your sinus, ears or bloodstream and in severe, untreated cases can lead to death.