Most people are familiar with the direct consequences of missing teeth – facial sagging, additional tooth loss, diminished self-confidence, etc. However, there are a number of indirect head and neck issues that start with missing teeth. Bite misalignment, or malocclusion, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) are both serious indirect oral health issues that are triggered when teeth are missing from the smile.
Shifting Teeth and Malocclusion
In a healthy smile, each tooth acts like an anchor, exerting pressure on neighboring teeth to preserve the alignment and bite pattern. This is critical to ensure you can bite, chew, swallow, and even speak with ease. However, when a tooth goes missing, a gap is created in the smile.
When left untreated, neighboring teeth begin to shift into the empty gap. Not only does this create new, hard-to-clean spots in the smile, but this malocclusion also impacts your ability to bite and chew effectively. In the long-run, bite misalignment can prevent patients from eating nutritious foods needed to stay healthy.
Uneven Pressure Leads to Uneven Wear
Poor bite does more than make eating difficult – it can also compromise the health of neighboring healthy teeth. When teeth do not line up correctly due to misalignment, the distribution of pressure when biting and chewing becomes uneven as patients try to overcompensate for missing teeth. This in turn speeds up normal wear and tear, causing certain teeth to wear out more quickly and leaves them more vulnerable to decay and infection. These teeth often require in-depth restorative care like crowns and bridges earlier on.
Malocclusion caused by shifting teeth can also have an indirect impact on the jaw joint, known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). While often overlooked, the TMJ and its attached muscles allows the jaw to open, close, and move side to side without issue. However, the functionality of this joint is relies heavily on the bite. Bite misalignment caused by moving or missing teeth can travel up the jaw to the joint, preventing it from functioning moving correctly. This in turn leads to joint dysfunction (TMD), a series of conditions that affect the head and neck. Treatments for TMD often include migraines, jaw clicking, vertigo, and more.
While these conditions are an indirect result of missing teeth, they are still issues patients can face unless they get treatment for their missing teeth. In Thornhill, Dr. Leonard Schwartz and his team are committed to helping patients avoid the dental health consequences of missing teeth by providing long-term solutions with dental implants. To learn more about how dental implants and dental implant-supported restorations can protect your smile, call our team in Thornhill, ON today!
Dr. Leonard Schwartz
8500 Leslie St. Suite 540
Canada L3T 7M8
Monday: 7:30am – 4:00pm
Tuesday: 12:00pm - 8:00pm
Wednesday: 12:00pm - 7:00pm
Thursday: 7:30am – 5:00pm
Saturday: 8:30am - 4:00pm (alternates)