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I was faced with that question from one of my patients , who came to my clinic seeking a second opinion about his lower molars , it was the first molar , a colleague dentist recommended extraction ,unfortunately my clinical and radio graphical examination approved the first opinion.
The patient then started wondering about the space that will result after extracting the tooth. I explained to him that there are several options to replace his molar; one of them was a bridge, and my preferred option for replacing a missing tooth is dental implants for many reasons, like saving the integrity of the adjacent teeth, and preventing bone absorption at the extraction site.
Finally the patient hit me with the one million dollars’ question!!! What will happen if I don’t replace the tooth?
I took a deep breath, and started thinking! Hmmm, where do I start from???
Well, although it is a tooth at the posterior part of the mouth ( back side),which means that leaving the space empty won’t affect your appearance , but the side effects of leaving a space un replaced after a tooth extraction are far beyond.
When you lose a tooth, you lose some ability to chew food properly. This may mean that you either place more stress on the other teeth in order to chew all the food you eat, or you do not chew well enough and what is swallowed is not quite ready to be digested. This can lead to digestive difficulty. You might have to eliminate certain favorite foods because you cannot chew them thoroughly. For each missing tooth, you lose approximately 10% of your remaining ability to chew food. Other problems also occur. The neighbor teeth next to the space left by the extracted or missing tooth tend to shift towards the space. Also the opposing teeth will extrude into the space slowly (or sometimes quickly), resulting in a bite collapse in the extraction side.
Eventually the facial muscles of the cheeks and mouth sink into the edentulous (extraction) side.
The longer you wait after a tooth is extracted, the more difficult and expensive it can become to make the replacement you need. With very few exceptions, it is better to replace missing teeth as soon as possible. Evolution designed you to chew your food with 28 teeth.
That was my quick answer to my patient which I like to share with you.
My patient is considering replacing his extracted tooth with an implant, after the healing time.