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What happens in your mouth when you lose a tooth?


When it comes to losing a tooth, it is a situation none of us wants to be in. Whether you have lost a tooth through an accidental injury or as a result of advanced gum disease, having a gap in your mouth can feel uncomfortable and awkward. This article explains the physiological effects of tooth loss in both scenarios, detailing what to do in an emergency to help save a tooth, as well as an effective tooth replacement or repair treatment offered by dentistry. 

Losing a Tooth through injury

People often wonder what happens immediately after a tooth has been accidentally knocked out. A common question is:

Is there any way to save the tooth even if it has been knocked out?

The moments straight after losing a tooth can be vital in terms of saving the tooth and protecting the area where the loss has occurred.  

When a tooth is impacted, it is natural for there to be pain and some bleeding. This will depend on whether the tooth is still partially in the socket and moving or if has fully come out of the socket. It will feel strange in your bite obviously with the change and also there will likely be a lot of bruising and swelling in the lip and face area, due to the impact.


What should I do with the tooth?

If your tooth has been knocked out entirely, then if you are able to, putting the tooth in milk can help to save it while you find your way to an emergency dentist.

If you are somewhere without access to milk, you can also keep it inside your cheek, which keeps it moist and avoids the tooth drying out. This makes it more likely that a dentist can save the tooth through a procedure that involves ‘planting’ it back into the socket. You should make contact immediately with an emergency dentist in Oxford if this occurs in order to have the best chance of the tooth being repaired in this way.

Alternatively, you may need some root canal treatment from a dentist in Oxford who specialises in endodontics to ensure the long term survival of the tooth and to prevent infection.


What happens if the tooth cannot be saved? 

Sadly, not all cases of dental trauma result in the tooth being saved. If you do lose a tooth it can have an impact on your whole smile. Your teeth may start to move over time to fill the gap that has been created, causing teeth to drift and your smile to change shape. A gap in your smile, particularly at the front, can affect your speech and your confidence as your may avoid smiling or talking so as not to reveal the hole. Any trauma affecting the gum area can lead to the roots of the neighbouring teeth becoming exposed, resulting in ongoing pain.


When it comes to replacing missing teeth that have been lost through trauma, some patients are less inclined to replace a missing tooth if it is not in a prominent position in their smile. While this is understandable, it is also important to consider the impact of not replacing a missing tooth. Will it put extra pressure on remaining teeth and could it affect the position of your bite? Choosing to replace a missing tooth after a number of years rather than immediately can result in the need for bone grafts and more complex treatment.


Losing a tooth from advanced tooth decay

Dental trauma or accidental injury is not necessarily the most common way to lose a tooth although, it is often a more immediate cause of tooth loss. Many people end up with a missing tooth due to an extended period of tooth decay which has been left untreated due to a number of reasons, which leads to infection in the root and surrounding tissues, causing the tooth needing to be removed.


How do you know if you have advanced tooth decay?

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that slowly causes the destruction of the tooth and its surrounding tissues. This is a long process, that happens in a number of stages, with differing symptoms and treatment options.

The first stage is that the bacteria starts by attacking the outer layer of the tooth – the enamel and dentine. The dentine layer is almost like a sponge and the decay is soaked in slowly into the toth. At this stage you may have no symptoms or possibly some increased sensitivity to cold and sweet things. The area may feel a little tender because the tooth’s nerve is being affected.

At this stage your tooth decay can still be reversed if you visit the dentist for a checkup. The second stage is that the bacteria affects the pulp of the tooth – the inner layers, but in a process that is treatable – known as reversible pulpitis. If nothing is done at this stage however it starts to become an irreversible pulpitis. At this stage the tooth will become sensitive to heat as well and will take longer to recover from the sensation, with pain lasting for three or four minutes.


This is a sign that the nerve is being affected extensively – it is struggling to communicate with the brain that the stimulus has been removed so the brain continues to react to the sensitivity after it is removed.  

The final stage happens if the tooth is left untreated. You will likely have a dull throbbing ache that doesn’t go away, as the body perceives the infected nerve and tooth as a foreign body. A build-up of pus in the root causes the pain and as this grows so will the level of pain experienced. In this case, the only option remaining will be the removal of the infected tooth.


What happens in a tooth socket once a tooth has been removed due to advanced periodontal disease? 

It takes about six to eight weeks for the gum of the socket to heal, whereas the underlying bone can take anywhere from three to six months to repair and heal. During this time, and afterwards, the bone will start to disintegrate where the tooth has been removed. The longer the site is left, the more complex the treatment to replace the missing tooth may be due to the lack of bone, which provides the supporting foundation.


What dental treatment options are there for replacing missing teeth in Oxford?  

Whether you have lost a tooth through dental trauma or advanced tooth decay, there are options to replace your missing teeth with specialist dentistry in Oxford. Whilst in the past the most popular option was a removable denture, which can be awkward and uncomfortable, dental implants have changed the face of dentistry.

Dental implants in Oxford are a way of replacing your missing teeth with a permanent solution. An implant is placed in the jaw bone and the bone fuses around the implant making it secure. Depending on the time elapsed since removal of the tooth there may be the need for a simple bone grafting procedure before the implant is placed to ensure its success. Once the implant has been placed and allowed the time to heal, a crown or bridge is fixed onto the implant, restoring your smile both in terms of cosmetic appearance and functionality for biting and chewing. Replacing missing teeth with dental implants can also help protect your natural teeth from extra pressure or movement due to gaps in your smile.


Find out more about Dental Implants in Oxford

To find out more about the options available for replacing your missing teeth, book a consultation with One The Gallery In Oxford now. We specialise in placing dental implants and have successfully placed dental implants in many complex cases as well as many more straightforward cases.




To find out more about how we can help improve your smile, or to book a hygiene appointment, get in touch with One The Gallery on 01865 256007 or click here to book an appointment


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