Mulling Over Missing Molars? Three Reasons To Stop Putting Off Replacement Of Your Missing Teeth
When one or more adult upper or lower molars are removed due to disease or some type of damage or accident, it might seem sensible to consider foregoing restorative dentistry, because the missing tooth is not visible when speaking or smiling. Some patients justify this decision as a way to save money or as a way to avoid making room in a busy schedule to accommodate the dental procedure.
However, failing to invest the time and funds required to replace an extracted molar with a dental implant or some other type of restorative option can have some serious consequences. If you are dealing with a molar that needs to be removed, or have already undergone a molar extraction, the following information will help you understand the potential problems you may face if you opt to put off dealing with space left behind after the loss or extraction of these very important teeth.
Unhealthy & Unattractive Changes to the Jaw and Facial Structure
Even though the space where the molar was extracted may not be readily visible to others, a gap caused by a missing molar can make profound changes in the facial structure of the patient. This is particularly true when the extracted molar was in the lower jaw, and its removal creates an area of insufficient support for the tooth positioned above it.
As time passes, the structure of both the underlying bones and the soft tissue of the face can change dramatically when subjected to the loss of one or more of the teeth that once provided support. Sagging skin, excessive wrinkling and changes in bone structure can result in premature aging and increasing difficulty maintaining proper chewing action. Additionally, one or more missing molars can result in a lack of support for the upper jaw, which can cause the lower portion of the face to appear collapsed or shortened.
Decreases in Chewing Efficiency and General Oral Health
Left unattended, missing molars, can result in nutritional issues as patients begin eliminating foods that become increasingly difficult to chew. Many of these foods are important parts of the daily diet, such as vitamin-rich, fibrous vegetables and protein-rich meats. Patients with missing molars may also find they begin to swallow some foods before they are properly masticated, which can interfere with normal digestion and the ability of the body to absorb the vitamins and minerals in the food.
Missing molars also change the way that the teeth interact with each other. Normally, the tooth's protective socket in the alveolar bone allows them to receive stimulation from the surrounding teeth that helps with healthy oral tissue regeneration so that the teeth are held in their proper position. When one or more molars are missing from their sockets, the other teeth can drift out of their proper location, displacing proper chewing action and interfering with healthy oral tissue regeneration.
Speech Issues Related to Missing Molars
Just as one or more missing molars can contribute to serious changes in the facial appearance and overall health of the patient, they can also be responsible for verbal changes as well. Vocalization requires humans to modulate the flow of air through their oral cavities to create sounds. When missing teeth allow structural changes to take place in the bones and soft tissues of the oral cavity, air flow can be impaired, or even misdirected, causing the patient to utter words that sound slurred or are difficult to understand.
If you are facing a molar extraction or have had one in the past, consider speaking to your dentist about your concerns. For some patients, dental implants can provide a long lasting solution that is affordable and easy to maintain. Your dental professional will conduct an examination, taking into account your overall dental health before making the best recommendation for your particular needs.