If you're an adult who lost a back tooth while playing basketball, football or another type of contact sport, you may decide to wait to replace the tooth, or you may decide to not do anything at all. Putting off dental treatment right away might not be a good idea. Even the loss of one back tooth can have a big impact on your dental health. Here's how a missing back tooth affects you and what you can do to protect your dental health now and in the future.
What Happens After You Lose a Molar?
Every tooth in your mouth has a purpose, including your molars. Molars strengthen and protect your jawbones from bone loss, as well as add support to the muscles of your face. You should understand that your jawbones can lose a significant amount of height, width and thickness within the first year of losing your molar. Although the loss slows down after the first year, it can still cause numerous problems throughout your lifetime, even premature aging.
Premature aging occurs when the muscle tissues covering your jaw and facial bones become weak and loose over time. For instance, you might experience sagging in your cheeks, forehead and jawline. The muscles around your mouth might droop, which causes your lips to pull downward and make you look as though you're frowning.
Missing molars can also affect how well you chew food and speak. Back teeth have large surfaces designed to grind meat, vegetables and fruit into tiny particles, which makes it easier for you to swallow your food. Chewing creates pressure on your jawbones that stimulates them to grow strong and viable. Without any type of stimulation, the bone tissues of your jaws absorb back into your body, which causes your face and jaws to appear small, thin and weak over time.
Your lost tooth can potentially affect your diet. You might experience pain and irritation in your gums when you bite down on hard vegetables or tough meat. Because your tongue pushes food around your mouth when you chew, it's possible for you to bite or nip your tongue if it accidentally slips between the space with the missing molar and the tooth above or below it. To avoid these issues, you may choose to eat softer foods that may or may not provide your body with the right nutrition. For example, instead of eating proteins, such as chicken, pork and beef for meals, you might choose to only eat tofu and boiled vegetables.
To prevent all of the problems listed above, it's important that you act now to replace your missing molar.
What Should You Do Instead of Putting Off Treatment?
One of the first things you might do to protect your oral health is ask a dentist about dental implants. Dental implants are slender metal or ceramic posts that fit inside the empty sockets of missing teeth. Dentists typically cover the posts with artificial crowns made of porcelain or ceramic. The posts and crowns allow individuals to chew food properly, which stops or reduces the loss of bone in the jaws.
Implants may also prevent premature aging by strengthening your jaws and supporting the muscles of your face. You might notice gradual improvements in how your facial features appear after you get dental implants. Your cheeks may appear higher in your face, and the muscles around your mouth and chin may appear smoother and more resilient. A dentist can tell you more about the benefits of dental implants for your face during a detailed and informative exam.
After your dental implant procedure, protect all of your teeth from sports-related injuries by wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard. A custom-fitted appliance works better for you because it conforms to the shape of your teeth and jaws, which keeps it in place. Be sure to ask a dentist about your mouthguard as soon as possible.
For more information about the effects of tooth loss, contact a dentist like Dale D. Lentz DDS today.