According to the American Dental Association, adults ages 20-64 have three or more decayed or missing teeth. And having missing teeth can lead to a variety of oral and overall health problems

Here at Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. in Orinda, California, Dr. Ellis makes it her mission to ensure that people of all ages receive exceptional dental care, especially when it comes to tooth decay and tooth loss. Here are the top five reasons why you should replace a missing tooth without delay.

1. Difficulty speaking and chewing

When you’re missing a tooth, it’s harder to speak naturally and chew your favorite foods easily. And, if you’re missing several teeth, the problem will only get worse over time.

2. Sagging skin and shifting teeth

Think of every single tooth in your mouth as a support system for your other teeth. Together, they stay in their proper places and allow you to chew and speak. Teeth also help support your facial structure. If you have missing teeth as you get older, the skin around your jaw is no longer adequately supported, so it can begin to sag and make you look older. 

Additionally, your remaining teeth may shift into the gaps left by the missing teeth and cause even more extensive dental problems.

3. Long-term oral health problems

A missing tooth may not seem like a big deal, especially if the gap in your teeth isn’t visible when you smile. However, every tooth plays an important role in your oral health. A missing tooth could lead to gum disease and increase your risk of an oral infection, which, left untreated, could lead to bigger, more serious health issues. 

4. Increased risk of heart disease

Untreated oral health issues, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, mean that bacteria are out of control in your mouth. Because your mouth is the entryway into your digestive and respiratory systems, this bacteria can easily travel to other parts of your body. 

Once bacteria from your mouth is in your bloodstream, it can lead to cardiovascular disease and endocarditis, an infection in the lining of your heart chambers. 

5. Low self-confidence

If you don’t feel confident about your smile, it can be hard to make a good first impression. A missing tooth can make you feel self-conscious about smiling or talking at work or in social settings. Over time, missing teeth can have emotional consequences, too, especially if you begin avoiding activities you enjoy. 

If you can relate to any of these issues, you’re not alone. The good news is that replacing a missing tooth is easier than you might think. You can get a single dental implant, or several, depending on your needs, or Dr. Ellis may recommend a custom dental bridge

If you’ve been hesitant to replace your missing or knocked-out teeth, consider the long-term consequences. You owe it to your health to correct the problem now. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. today.