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Lucy Stock is a columnist for the Irish News

Losing Back Teeth Can Make You Look Older

by Lucy Stock BDS DipImpDent RCS (Eng)

Published in the Irish News . 31.07.2013

Out of sight, out of mind – this is a perilous approach to take after you have had a back tooth out. Just because the back teeth aren’t as visible doesn’t mean that they aren’t important to replace. In the UK, 7 out of 10 adults age 35 to 44 have lost at least one tooth and a quarter of those aged over 65 have lost all their teeth. The position and shape of your teeth, muscles, jaw bone and joints are very cleverly worked out and are designed to work best when there are 14 teeth in the top jaw and 14 teeth in the lower jaw. Leaving gaps at the back of your mouth may not affect you immediately but in the long term there are far reaching consequences.

For example after a lower back tooth is lost the adjacent teeth often drift or tip into the space over the forthcoming years. The top tooth that was held in position by the lower tooth now drops down as there’s nothing to stop it. When this occurs the teeth do not fit together properly like a jigsaw but clatter against each other causing the teeth to break, feel sore and the facial muscles to go into spasm resulting in headaches. Also, in each of your cheek bones there’s an air sinus – it is an oval shaped hole just above your top back teeth. Generally, people are unaware that if a top back tooth is lost, the air sinus enlarges destroying the bone at the back of your mouth leaving it more difficult to replace the missing tooth. More distressing for some people is when multiple missing back teeth changes their facial appearance because the jaw bone that was holding the teeth in place has withered away giving an aged sunken look. 

It’s important to bear in mind that back teeth are large because they are designed to take the heavy chewing forces. When they are lost the front teeth end up overloaded and either break or become loose. Lack of back teeth is a common cause of crowns coming out frequently. So ideally, where possible try to replace back teeth for long term stability and comfort.