The effects of tooth loss can be quite traumatic both psychologically and physiologically. The absence of a single tooth can lead to significant cosmetic changes in a person’s smile; more importantly, however, it can have a tremendous effect on how a person’s teeth occlude (i.e., ‘bite’) together. In turn, this can affect the ability to properly chew food (and nutritional health) and, over time, lead to shifting of other teeth with a resultant forced change in how the jaws come together that can cause pain and discomfort with the jaw joint (TMJ).
Most immediately following tooth loss, the bone surrounding the now missing tooth slowly begins to resorb (i.e., shrink), resulting in a loss of both bone height and width. As bone resorbs, the overlying gum tissue also tends to lose both volume and its normal anatomic form. This loss of bone and gum tissue following tooth extraction also often results in both functional and cosmetic defects, leaving an unsightly collapsed appearance. Your dentist and oral surgeon can further discuss these concerns with you along with steps that can be taken to prevent these changes following tooth loss.