What is the Problem with Missing Teeth?

On average, U.S. patients who are 50 years old have lost 12 teeth. More than two thirds of patients who are 35 to 44 years old have one or more permanent teeth. While missing teeth are quite common, there can be serious issues beyond the noticeable gap. The loss of a tooth can negatively impact a patient’s overall health. When patients fail to replace a missing tooth, it can result in numerous issues including an increased risk for additional tooth loss.


The following are risks and negative side effects associated with missing teeth which are not replaced.

  • Bone Loss: Healthy teeth rely on healthy bones. A strong jaw bone is needed to anchor, support, and secure the teeth in place. Routine chewing aids in stimulating and supporting the jaw bone. This is similar to how exercise aids in maintaining muscle. Missing teeth can result in the loss of bone in the jaw due to the lack of stimulation. Over time, the jawbone can begin to deteriorate. This can also cause movement and weakness in the surrounding teeth.


  • Health Concerns – When patients fail to replace a missing tooth, they have an increased risk for gum disease. Gum disease can cause serious oral health issues, in addition to other types of health issues. This may include heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. When a patient is missing a tooth, it can allow bacteria to enter the gums. These bacteria accumulate and result in gum disease. Gum disease can cause various issues such as loose teeth, tooth loss, and additional bone loss.


  • Additional Tooth Loss – For patients who are missing one or more permanent teeth, they are at an increased risk for the loss of the surrounding teeth. When a missing tooth is not promptly replaced, the patient’s risk of losing additional teeth is 30% higher.


  • Crooked Teeth – A missing tooth can also cause the adjacent teeth to begin shifting into the empty space. This movement of the teeth can negatively impact the patient’s smile as previously straight teeth can quickly become crooked. Missing teeth can also make it difficult to practice good oral hygiene and properly clean the teeth. Teeth which crowd together are difficult to clean with brushing and flossing. This can allow for the collection and buildup of bacteria and ultimately result in gum disease.


  • Bite Issues – Shifting teeth can also impact how the teeth fit together or your bite. An incorrect bite can result in bruxism or teeth grinding and TMJ disorder. These types of issues can result in damage of the tooth’s enamel, tension headaches, increased sensitivity and other problems.


Missing teeth can unfortunately cause issues beyond just the appearance of your smile. Missing teeth which are not treated can negatively impact a patient’s overall health, and result in other serious dental issues. Patients who are missing one or more of their natural teeth should follow up with their dentist to discuss their tooth-replacement options. These solutions can include dental implants, bridges, and implant-supported dentures. Many of these solutions appear and function similar to the natural teeth and are incredibly durable.

Dental Implant Years After Extraction