Unwanted tooth movements following tooth loss – over eruption and drifting

Posted on 22nd June 2019

Since 2016, I have written a blog at least once a week on various topics around dentistry and our dental practice. I wrote a blog on preventing tooth movements following tooth loss in 2017. It continues to be read by many users online and for this reason, I though it would be a good idea to revisit that topic once again in this blog below.

Since most patients are retaining most of their teeth, when they have one missing tooth it can influence a number of factors in the mouth.


In the picture below, this patient has recently had her premolar tooth removed.

In this situation, the patient’s remaining teeth are all perfectly healthy. Apart from the cosmetic issue of having a missing tooth, the main factors associated with leaving this missing tooth space are:

1 – A missing tooth space with neighbouring teeth can cause drifting of the teeth in the rest of arch. This will result in potential long term damage to many of your natural teeth and affect the appearance of your teeth.

2 – The opposing teeth directly above or below the missing tooth space is likely to drift gradually. We call this over eruption and this may result in loosening of your opposing tooth and also affect the cosmetic appearance of your teeth. The video below demonstrates the changes that occur following tooth loss:

3 – Following removal of your tooth, some patients are vulnerable to severe bone loss (resorption) in the area of the missing tooth. This can result in long term gum recession which can also make it less likely that a future dental implant could be placed in this space to replace the tooth. For this reason we recommend replacing missing teeth as early as possible following the tooth removal.

drifting teeth


When we consider replacing missing teeth for our patients, we need to consider how simply replacing a few teeth can help you retain the rest of your teeth. The benefits of having a dental implant in situations like the one below are difficult to quantify. It isn’t just the direct benefits of having a tooth again, it is also the indirect benefits of preventing future dental problems as well.

Our patient in the picture below is a prefect example of how a simple and effective dental implant replacement tooth can help the rest of her teeth continue to stay healthy, as well as maintaining her naturally aesthetic smile appearance.

tooth replacement using dental implant


Thank you for reading

Mohsin Patel BDS MJDF RCS (Eng)

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