The problem with missing teeth
Having a missing tooth can cause problems in the longer term. A missing front tooth can be an aesthetic problem, and a missing back tooth can cause changes to your bite, and in turn can affect other healthy teeth on that side of your mouth.
This diagram is from a “Tooth Atlas” textbook from 1976(!) showing the changes that can occur following loss of a tooth (in this case a lower first molar).
The opposing (upper) tooth can ‘overerupt’, or grow down into the space. This changes the contact point with its neighbouring teeth, can cause to foodpacking, and this can lead to gum problems (yellow) and/or decay(brown) in these teeth.
Similarly, the lower teeth next to the gap tend to drift into the space. Space can open up beside these teeth, causing foodpacking, gum problems, and/or decay.
This radiograph (x-ray) shows a patient with a similar situation to above. The lower first molar was missing, the adjacent teeth had drifted into the space, and decay had started on the back half of the tooth behind the space.
A Periodontist (gum and implant specialist) placed an implant in the space to replace the missing tooth, and subsequently we filled the decay and placed a tooth coloured (PFM) crown on the implant. Lower first molars are one of the most common areas for implant placement, due to the benefits they offer with chewing & restoring function.