Is It Really That Big of a Deal to Lose a Back Tooth?
First of all, let’s talk about what your teeth actually do. Different teeth have different jobs and names. Think of your teeth as a sports team. Each tooth has a position in the mouth and plays a specialized role. For example, your front teeth, the incisors, are designed to bite and tear, while your molars are the workhorses of the team.
Your back teeth are responsible for the hard work of breaking down food into smaller particles that you can swallow and digest. Not counting the wisdom teeth, you have four molars on each side–two on the top and two on the bottom. There are smaller teeth in front of the molars, whose job is to help with chewing. These are called premolars.
What happens when you lose a back tooth?
Teeth Miss Their Teammates!
When one of your chewing teeth is lost, a few things happen. Because your teeth are designed to work as a team, the other teammates are affected when a played is out of the game. The other teeth have to take on the load of the missing tooth, which can lead to break down of these remaining teeth and muscles.
Teeth Like to Touch
Your teeth like to touch other teeth. They like to touch the teeth in front of them and the teeth above or below them. In fact, when you lose a tooth, your remaining teeth shift until they find something to rest against for support. For instance, if you lose a lower tooth, the tooth behind it will tip over and the tooth above the space will drift down trying to find its partner. Sounds kind of sad, doesn’t it? Teeth are happiest when when everyone shows up for the game!
Teeth Work With the Muscles of the Jaw
Your teeth aren’t the only members of the team! The jaw and its muscles are a big part of healthy function. When a tooth is lost, it can cause the jaw to have to work harder to break down food leading to joint problems and muscle fatigue.
Replacing Missing Teeth
Just because a tooth doesn’t show doesn’t mean it isn’t important to replace. Luckily, there are several different options for replacing missing teeth. Talk to your dentist about the best option for you!