Not replacing a missing tooth can cause a range of predictable problems, including creating an unsightly appearance or trouble with eating.
Now, new research published in the Journal of the American Dental Association suggests that leaving a gap where a tooth once stood could increase a person's risk of losing the surrounding teeth.
The study found that if the missing tooth is not replaced, 19 per cent of adjacent teeth will be lost on average.
In addition, certain methods of replacing teeth can have a negative effect. A person who uses a tooth-supported bridge to fill the gap is likely to lose ten per cent of adjacent teeth, while someone who opts for a removable partial denture could lose an average of 30 per cent of nearby teeth.
Dr David Scharf, a clinical assistant professor at New York University College of Dentistry, commented: "Many times consumers will choose to replace a missing tooth with a removable partial denture because it is the least expensive option."
"In the long run however, removable partial dentures may be more costly due the loss of adjacent teeth and the need for future replacements," he added.
Mr Scharf recommended dental implants as the most effective method for replacing a lost tooth.
If a tooth does fall out or is knocked out, experts recommend that it is put in milk immediately in order to protect the delicate root.
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