How One Missing Tooth Affects Your Whole Body
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” —Thich Nhat Hanh
A smile is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and those around you. Dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are released into your bloodstream each time you smile. And because they’re contagious, they set off a chain of mood-boosters for other people. First, when they see you smile, and secondly, when they smile in response to your smile, which releases the feel-good hormones into their bloodstreams, as well.
What if trauma or decay takes one of your teeth away? Does this mean your smile is no longer effective or powerful? Not at all. Smiles don’t have to be perfect to positively impact the person smiling or the world around them. But the gap in your teeth can affect your confidence and, consequently, your ability to smile freely. Here are 6 ways an implant can change your smile, and life, for the better.
1. You smile more broadly when a missing tooth has been replaced.
Most people don’t realize when they’re hiding their smile. Self-consciousness is not something that shouts; it’s sneaky. When we are self-conscious, we are usually not aware that we are. And when we become aware, our sense of self-worth is often so tied into our perception of ourselves that it’s not natural for us to think, “This is something I can fix; it’s not me.”
Replacing the missing tooth will help you feel confident enough to smile broadly again.
2. You will regain stability for surrounding teeth.
The gap a missing tooth leaves behind affects the stability of other teeth. Our teeth and roots support each other and help keep each other in place. Over time, neighboring teeth will shift because the stability previously provided by the nearby tooth and roots is gone. When teeth are leaning or have shifted, the likelihood that they may be knocked loose or break when chewing increases.
When you replace the missing tooth, you prevent other teeth from shifting, becoming loose, or breaking, helping you to keep more of your teeth for longer.
3. You will be able to chew with even pressure.
Your teeth are like wolves. The strength of the pack is in the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is in the pack. In other words, your teeth are stronger together.
Do you find yourself chewing on one side of your mouth or chewing slowly? This is a sign that your missing tooth is affecting the evenness of wear your smile needs to stay healthy. If your bite is uneven, it is eventually going to wear down other teeth more quickly, causing pain, the wearing down of enamel, and an increased chance of decay. An uneven bite also increases the chance that you’ll lose another tooth, further compounding the problems you’ll have with oral health.
By replacing the missing tooth with an implant, you can bring back a strong and even bite. You can chew with confidence, enjoy the foods you’ve always been able to enjoy, and experience greater longevity in keeping your natural teeth due to even wear. Remember, your teeth are stronger together.
4. Implants will strengthen your jawbone.
Your alveolar bone is the bone that holds your teeth in place and keeps them grounded into your jawbone. When a tooth is missing, the density of your alveolar bone begins to decrease. This creates a less stable environment for nearby teeth and causes facial sagging anywhere your jawbone is not as strong as it used to be. This premature aging is not necessary. Though you can’t get your natural tooth back once it’s lost, a dental implant and restoration will stimulate the growth of your jawbone through a process called osseointegration. This will allow you to retain a healthy bone density and restore youth and fullness to your face. The sooner you get an implant the better as you need a healthy amount of jawbone to make the implant surgery successful. Your dentist will be able to tell you if you are a good candidate for implants. If you have lost too much of your alveolar bone, your dentist can discuss options with you for bone regeneration (yes, it’s possible!) and/or different kinds of prosthetic teeth (bridge implants, hybrid implants, and more).
5. Missing teeth change the shape of your face.
Many people do not realize that one missing tooth can affect the shape of your face. As described above, when your alveolar bone begins to lose density, facial sagging can occur.
Our teeth gently push our lips outward into a shape that humans find familiar, so even one missing tooth can subtly affect your face shape. The biggest concerns, however, are the health of your jawbone and alveolar bone, and the prevention of further tooth loss.
6. Implants help to prevent infection.
A mouth with missing teeth isn’t the best environment to work with to heal from periodontal disease. Restoring teeth and treating periodontal disease go hand-in-hand, as an empty socket is at high risk for infection. Just as periodontal disease adversely affects your jawbone, an injured jawbone also adversely affects your gum health. Your dentist’s goal is to support your oral health by treating periodontal disease, restoring missing teeth, and protecting the alveolar bone. The mouth is a complex wonder, and each year, advances in dentistry create a greater probability for achieving optimum oral health for all ages.
A missing tooth isn’t just a missing tooth. In some cases, it can kick-start a set of downward events that can mean bad news for your oral health. While we are not trying to cause alarm, we do want to prevent periodontal disease, other missing teeth, and the slow disappearance of your alveolar bone. There is no time like the present to talk to your dentist about restoring the natural beauty and function of your smile.