The answer is yes…and not necessarily. Super helpful, am I right?! Here we are going to go into a few reasons why it could be important to “fill the gap” and why in other circumstances doing nothing is an okay option too.
People are missing teeth for lots of reasons; decay, trauma, broken tooth, or just never developed in the first place (congenitally missing). Whatever your reason is let’s figure out if you want to “fill the gap” or not.
Reasons to “Fill the Gap”
- Placement of the missing tooth. If your missing tooth is near the front of your mouth you’re probably going to want to look into options for filling the space due to esthetics, possible speech issues, social (job opportunities), and even mental (self-esteem, lack of confidence) reasons.
- Difficulty chewing. If you’re missing multiple teeth in one area chewing can become troublesome, and put unnecessary strain on other teeth which can result in broken teeth and/or missing more teeth.
- Shifting teeth. When you are missing a tooth there can be a tendency for the surrounding teeth to either spread out or “tip” into the open space. The opposing tooth (tooth on opposite jaw) if present will normally super erupt, or push through the gums too far.
- Bone loss. When you are missing an adult tooth due to extraction it can cause the jaw bone to resorb, or deteriorate. This occurs because the jaw bone is no longer receiving the necessary stimulation that it needs to thrive.
Reasons to leave it alone
- Placement of missing tooth. If it is in the very back and is not serving a purpose (does not have an opposing tooth) any more.
- Age; are dentures in your future? If you are planning on dentures, a partial, or if any replacement procedure (implant, bridge) is too hard on you physically then replacing the tooth may not be in your best interest.
Of course this decision to replace or not replace a missing tooth can be a big one! You should always consult with your general dentist to come up with an individualized plan that will best suit you and your circumstances.