Tooth loss can occur for a variety of reasons. In some situations, teeth are lost because the supporting tissues (gum and bone) are being destroyed (periodontal disease). In other situations, such as trauma, the tooth may be lost without any deterioration to the periodontal tissues.
In either situation, there can be substantial effects from this tooth loss both in the mouth and to the entire body.
As we lose teeth, eating may become more difficult. This situation often leads to a deterioration of a person’s diet and overall health. When nutrition and proper eating habits decline, there is an increased incidence of systemic diseases and poorer overall health.
In the mouth, we may see a variety of effects from tooth loss. The most obvious change occurs to the supporting bone. It has been demonstrated that 25% of the bone width (where the tooth or teeth formerly was) is lost within the first year. The deterioration continues (at a slower rate) after this time. Additionally, tooth shifting often occurs as teeth move into the vacant space.
Extrusion or “Super-Eruption” may also occur with tooth loss. In this scenario, the opposing tooth from the other arch may erupt farther into the mouth filling the vacated space (see diagram).