Is it necessary to go through the trouble to replace the tooth with an implant or pursue another option such as a bridge, if it isn’t visible, and it isn’t bothering me? When we are missing a tooth (or teeth), the teeth around it bear the additional stress of chewing. This can result in cracking, or other stress which can contribute to dental caries. Many people who are missing one or more back teeth actually compensate by chewing on only one side. That can cause TMJ issues, and will cause the other side of the jaw (bone and muscle) to weaken. Our jaw bone is kept strong and dense by chewing (like exercising). One missing tooth can eventually cause weakening of the bone and connective tissue, affecting the teeth around it. Implants function in the same way as a tooth, by fusing with the bone – a process called osseointegration. This keeps the bone strong and healthy – and increases the likelihood of being able to keep the rest of the teeth healthy and intact. Each person is different – variations in bone density and other factors can impact our overall oral health. One of the biggest factors that can influence dental implant success is time. If you are missing a tooth or teeth, a conversation with a dentist – sooner, rather than later – can provide you with a lot more information regarding your individual oral health, and can help you review the potential benefits versus concerns you may have.