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Missing Teeth and Their Oral Health Implications

Posted on June 4, 2021

Cute little girl enjoing time at fun fair, chain swing ride, amusement park in summer

A common problem seen in dentistry is missing teeth. Missing teeth can have an impact on your oral health and cause a wide range of problems including misalignment or crooked teeth, difficulty eating, and bone loss. Additionally, you may experience difficulty chewing food and speaking properly. Missing teeth can also have an effect on your self-esteem.

One of the concerns with missing teeth is the ability to chew and eat properly. When a tooth is missing, it can be difficult to bite and chew your food. This can lead to digestive issues as well as discomfort when eating causing additional strain on the mouth and other teeth and leading to further tooth loss.

Here is a detailed look at some of these and other problems associated with missing teeth as well as the implications.

1. Missing Teeth and Malocclusions

If your little one is missing a permanent tooth, a children’s dentist may recommend a replacement implant. An orthodontist may place a dental appliance in the gap to allow for other teeth to emerge. An orthodontic device will keep the gap open and prevent the other teeth from shifting. It can serve as a placeholder until a restorative procedure is performed.

2. Teeth Shifting

If your child loses their baby teeth prematurely, a children’s dentist will examine the teeth and gums. Without proper treatment, the teeth on either side will start to move into the gap. As a result, the child will develop issues with the bite and jaw alignment. Sometimes, it is not that the teeth are missing, but they failed to emerge from the gums. It is often a result of an obstruction, such as a nearby tooth moving into the gap.

3. Bone Resorption

Since physical stimuli strengthen the jawbone, missing teeth cause the erosion of bone mass. The most common cause of jawbone resorption is tooth extraction. Bone loss in children has a relatively high prevalence of approximately 8%. Even though implants can address the loss of bone mass, placement could be complicated if the condition is severe. Sometimes a pediatric dentist may decide to place implants immediately after an extraction.

What is the best option for missing teeth?

For patients with tooth misalignments, a dentist may recommend braces first before dental implants. That is because implants cannot shift into place like a regular tooth. The orthodontist will leave a space for the device after the teeth move into position.

To fix missing teeth, a dentist may use dental bridges, implants or dentures. Bridges are devices that can sit on the gap with a missing tooth. They are a good option when missing multiple teeth. A dental implant may also be placed surgically onto the tooth. It is a more permanent option compared to bridges. However, it is only recommended for teens whose teeth have stopped growing.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are a popular choice for missing teeth. Implants offer a permanent solution that look and feel like natural teeth. The process involves inserting a small titanium or zirconia post into the jawbone, which acts as an anchor for a replacement tooth. Once the post has fused with the bone, a custom-made crown is attached to the top, creating a seamless, natural-looking smile.

Dental Bridge

For those who are missing multiple teeth, a dental bridge may be the most suitable option. Bridges involve attaching one or more artificial teeth to the surrounding natural teeth, effectively bridging the gap created by the missing teeth. This can help to restore chewing function and prevent additional tooth loss.


Dentures are another option, these removable appliances are designed to fit over the gums and are customized to fit your mouth. While dentures may not offer the same level of stability and comfort as dental implants, they can be a good choice for those who are not good candidates for implants or who prefer a removable option.

The patient’s oral health history may also determine the best treatment option to repair the missing teeth. If the patient has other dental problems such as overcrowding, a dentist and an orthodontist will address those issues first.

Children and adults tend to have unique dental health requirements due to the difference in physiology. The little ones are more vulnerable to cavities, but they have challenges adhering to an oral hygiene routine. A pediatric dentist understands the characteristic problems children face. It is advisable to take your child to an experienced children’s dentist.


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