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What happens if you don’t replace a missing tooth?

Missing a tooth? You’re not alone. Almost 75% of British people do not have a full set of natural teeth, and 6% have none of their original teeth left at all.

Tooth loss in adults is not uncommon, and as we get older, we’re more likely to experience losing one of our permanent teeth. There are many reasons for this, and typical causes of tooth loss include trauma and injury, as well as tooth decay and gum disease - which is why maintaining good oral health practices, brushing and flossing daily and regularly visiting your dentist can help keep our teeth and gums in great shape.

Replacing a missing tooth or teeth is important for a number of different reasons, and can bring considerable improvements to your confidence, ability to eat and speak, and general quality of life. Let’s take a closer look at what can happen if you put off replacing a missing tooth, and why looking into options for replacing missing teeth is so important.


Man flossing in mirror

Your other teeth may become crooked

Healthy teeth work because every tooth supports another, keeping everything in line and functioning properly. If a missing tooth is not replaced, the gap may cause the neighbouring teeth to start shifting. Over time, the remaining teeth can appear crooked, and new gaps can form between the teeth.

This isn’t just an aesthetic issue, although most people would like their teeth to be as straight and aligned as possible. Crooked, gapped and overlapping teeth are also more difficult to clean, as bacteria builds up in places hard to reach by regular brushing and flossing. As such, failing to replace a missing tooth can lead to oral health issues in your remaining teeth, which may result in further tooth loss.

Overeruption from missing teeth

Having a gap in your teeth can cause an overeruption to occur. This is when the missing tooth’s opposing partner - that is, the tooth on the opposite side of the jaw to the one which was lost - can begin to grow out of its position. This happens because the tooth no longer has its opposite counterpart to provide the necessary resistance when biting or chewing, and it can result in sensitivity and a range of other issues.

Woman having problems biting food

Problems with biting and chewing

Our teeth function best as a unit, and correctly aligned teeth should come together in harmony when we chew and bite our food. When you have a missing tooth or teeth, eating and chewing can place additional stress on the remaining teeth. You may also find chewing more difficult, or have issues with sensitivity and pain caused by food getting stuck in the gap.

Misaligned bite

The way your teeth fit together when you bite is important. Known as occlusion, this relationship between your upper and lower sets of teeth is central to our oral health, the way we eat, and the confidence we feel when we smile.

While everyone’s occlusion is slightly different, there is an optimal occlusion which restorative dentists and orthodontists will try to achieve for both aesthetic and oral health reasons. When you’re missing a tooth or teeth, your occlusion will eventually change for the worse, due to the way your bite will shift over time. By replacing a missing tooth, the natural, healthy and confidence-giving balance of your bite can be rectified.

Man with tooth pain from missing teeth

Bone loss and damage

When you lose a tooth, you’ll also lose the natural roots that anchor the tooth in your jawbone. Over time, the reduction in stimulation of the bone tissue around the missing root can cause the jawbone to deteriorate.

This can result in a sunken and aged appearance to the jaw, and the reduced bone can lead to the roots of the surrounding teeth becoming exposed. This can cause pain and sensitivity, and the reduction in bone mass can also make it more difficult for missing teeth to be adequately replaced

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Lost confidence in your smile

Your smile matters. People with a missing tooth often feel self-conscious about the way they look when they smile or laugh, and this can result in a lack of confidence and low self-esteem.

When our dentists replace a missing tooth, they’re not just improving bite function and balance. They’re also replacing lost confidence, elevating self-esteem and revealing your smile to the world.

If you’re missing a tooth and want to take steps to replace your missing tooth, our experienced dentists can help. With a range of options available for missing teeth, including dental implants, bridges and dentures, we’ll be able to restore your smile and improve your quality of life.

Find your local Bupa Dental Care practice

Bupa Dental Care is a trading name of Oasis Dental Care Limited. Registered in England and Wales No: 00478127. Registered office: Bupa Dental Care, Vantage Office Park, Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook, Bristol, United Kingdom BS16 1GW.

Oasis Dental Care Limited has a number of trading names including Bupa Dental Care. For a list of all our different trading names please follow this link.

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