Patients may be tempted to delay treatment to replace a missing tooth, especially if that tooth was not in a highly visible area. However, postponing an intervention after tooth loss can result in a number of consequences.
Even a single missing tooth can compromise your smile’s appearance, create an opportunity for the other teeth to shift out of their proper positions and affect your ability to chew and speak properly.
While filling in the empty space with any type of replacement device can be beneficial for patients, the type of treatment chosen can also have long-term implications for the patient’s oral health. Dental implants offer a more structurally complete tooth replacement than dental bridges and dentures, including both an artificial tooth “root” and a prosthetic crown.
After an oral surgeon inserts the implant into the patient’s jaw, the bone in the area will osseo-integrate with the device. The bond that develops between the jawbone and the implant gives this intervention more stability and durability than other options.
Dental implants prevent jawbone erosion, which is another factor that can motivate patients to move quickly to replace missing teeth. If you delay treatment outright or even choose an alternative that has no root-like structure, you may experience significant bone loss, especially if several years pass.
If a patient wants to pursue dental implants at a later time or upgrade from another appliance, an oral surgeon may not be able to place the implants initially due to that bone loss. The patient may first need to undergo a bone graft to provide enough bone material to support osseointegration.
Patients who wait to replace missing teeth may also find it difficult to chew all of their favorite foods, and their speech may sound strange, as well.