Long-term loss of molars
Long-term loss of molars can have significant consequences but it is often overlooked due to its minimal impact on aesthetics. However, the absence of molars not only affects oral health but also accelerates facial aging. So, what can be done to address this situation?
1. The significance and location of molars
Adults have a total of 32 teeth, including 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars (teeth 4 and 5), and 12 molars (teeth 6, 7, and 8, also known as wisdom teeth). Molars are the largest teeth in the mouth, characterized by wide chewing surfaces, grooved tooth surfaces, and 2, 3, or 4 roots.
Molars play a crucial role in crushing and chewing food before it is swallowed. Additionally, they contribute to facial symmetry and aid in the completion of the chewing process.
2. Consequences of molar loss
The loss of molars, particularly over an extended period, can result in various serious consequences, including:
Weakening of adjacent teeth: Prolonged absence of the 6th molar exerts excessive force on the remaining teeth, making them vulnerable to conditions like misalignment, jaw pain, and cavities.
Instability among teeth: Loss of multiple molars and subsequent bone loss in the jaw can cause neighboring teeth to lose support, leading to their displacement towards the space left by the missing teeth. Additionally, teeth opposite the missing molars may start to shift downwards.
Oral infections: Neglecting the treatment of missing molars for an extended period can lead to gum and pulp inflammation, resulting in persistent pain in the roof of the mouth, frequent gum swelling, and easy bleeding during activities like brushing and flossing.
Impact on digestion: As molars are responsible for grinding and thoroughly chewing food, the absence of multiple molars significantly impairs the chewing process, leading to insufficiently crushed food. This can strain the digestive system, potentially causing long-term damage.
Jaw bone loss: The area of the jawbone where teeth are missing experiences bone loss due to the lack of stimulation from tooth roots. This can lead to gum recession and further deterioration.
Premature aging: Jaw bone loss causes the cheek area around the missing teeth to recede, resulting in wrinkled and sagging skin. This imbalance can distort facial appearance and contribute to premature aging.
It is crucial to address the issue of missing molars promptly to prevent these complications and maintain overall oral and facial health.