When a tooth is removed, is it mandatory that an implant should follow? Is it advisable to leave that space empty?
The majority of adults can expect to have 32 teeth. But the last third molar teeth on either side of both jaws (wisdom teeth) are often extracted because they do not grow into the mouth correctly due to a lack of space.
The other 28 teeth are very important. Loss of a tooth decreases chewing efficiency and the functioning of other teeth, which work as a unit.
When a tooth is lost, the teeth adjacent will tilt and drift into this space. This can make them more prone to dental decay and gum disease as it is more difficult to clean teeth that are not aligned. Also, the opposing tooth in the other jaw will also start growing into the missing space. This could lead to a condition where the roots of these teeth, which are normally covered by gum and bone, may get exposed, leading to problems like sensitivity. It can also cause painful dysfunction of the temperomandibular joints that unite the lower jaw with the skull.
There are a few options to replace a missing tooth. The best option by far is a dental implant. Compared to a porcelain bridge they do not affect your adjacent teeth, whereas for a bridge, these teeth would have to be filed down to support the replacement crown.
Moreover, it is easier to maintain good oral hygiene around the implant than a fixed bridge, where there is a greater risk of food getting trapped under.
It is recommended that you do not wait too long for the implant to replace the missing tooth, as you might end up with bone loss, making an implant non-feasible or leading to a need for extra procedures such as a bone graft to place the implant, which will hike costs and take up more time.