While it is easy to convince someone to replace a front missing tooth, it often requires more effort to help them understand why a back molar needs a replacement with a dental implant. To be clear, this refers to the second molars and excludes the wisdom teeth, as the wisdom teeth are typically removed during late teens and don’t serve real functional benefit in the mouth. However, patients who have a second molar missing or extracted commonly ask if it is really necessary to replace it? Here’s a closer look at that answer.
Is it a Lower or Upper Molar?
It can make a difference whether you are missing an upper second molar or a lower one. If it is a lower molar, the answer is almost always “yes – you need to replace it.” These set of back molars are your primary chewing teeth, and they are directly in line with the main chewing muscle called the masseter. If you are missing that lower molar, the corresponding upper molar may begin to “over erupt” out of the socket in an effort to make contact with its long lost partner.
Teeth need to be in contact with one another. Not only is this how our jawbone gets stimulated and retains density, but it prevents the teeth from drifting out of place. If each tooth doesn’t have an opposing tooth to bite down on, it can also cause you to start biting your cheek and gum, which can impact the jaw and lead to disruptive TMJ problems.
If you are missing the upper molar, the consequences may not be as severe. If you are like most patients and have a class I bite, then your lower molar may still have something to bite against in the upper row of teeth because it is not aligned perfectly. Still, it requires a professional evaluation to determine if you can get away with not replacing it. There are several factors that need to be considered.
Let a Dentist Decide
The answer as to whether or not you need a dental implant for a back molar can be quickly given by an experienced implant dentist such as Dr. Wayne Suway. Often, you’ll need a brief set of x-rays to provide the dentist with all of the information needed. If you do need a dental implant, and this is quite likely, then Dr. Suway will ensure you have a full understanding of why tooth replacement is necessary and what can happen if you choose to ignore it. Ideally, second molars should be replaced as nature gave you these chewing molars for specific reasons.