Hidden Effects Of Missing Teeth
The absence of a tooth, or more than one is a cosmetic concern. This can alter facial aesthetics, or the ability to speak clearly, adding to psychological effects.
These aspects are important but the ramifications for physical health can be significant. They are simply not as well recognised, including the outcome of problems with chewing food.
Firmer textured foods people avoid due to tooth loss are often nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, or nuts. Softer, perhaps sweeter foods tend to take their place.
Tooth loss has been found to be a factor in vitamin deficiency and obesity to a degree. Clear health risks, although another issue is harder to see.
A 2023 research paper pulled together a number of studies from a 35 year period, to give an overall picture of the effect of tooth loss on the function of the brain.
The findings were clear, including the secondary effect on neural pathways. Unwanted reorganization of the sensory and motor cortices can occur, whereas adequate chewing reinforces neural functional streams.
Without suitable stimulation, the brain can undergo detrimental neuroplastic changes, impacting taste and hearing. Suboptimal mastication can add to cognitive decline, by impairing cerebral blood flow.
Nobody is suggesting that because you lose a tooth, brain disfunction will ensue. The research involved a wide range of cases, including multiple tooth loss over long periods.
Even so, neural interconnections involving your teeth, mastication and brain are complex. They are not helped by tooth loss.
The loss of teeth can destabilise your jaw and dental structure, remaining teeth could become misaligned, or loosen. A route to further tooth loss, along with increased likelihood of gum disease.
Changes in the jaw region can bring stress to the temporomandibular joint, which provides your jaw’s movement. Incorrect function brings inconvenience, pain, or headaches.
The outcome of a less well balanced diet can be wide ranging and if tooth loss does add to gum disease, the chance of high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke increases.
As the brain is a complex, interdependent structure, so is our body. Loss of function in one area can have unexpected outcomes in others.
Finding A Solution
Dentures and bridges have been around for a long time and can help but better if the status quo is maintained. Dental implants are as near as we can come to replacing missing teeth in the way they were created.
We tend to think of implants as the part we see, the tooth like crown which blends with normal teeth, although the implant is in reality the artificial root.
Over time, this bonds with your jaw as a natural tooth would. A long lasting solution, which can be cleaned as any teeth might be.
Having the visible crown in place is a psychological and practical benefit, a return to normality. Considering the less obvious benefits of tooth restoration can still be important.