More than 70% of the adult population in the US is suffering from digestive symptoms and diseases. So, it is now more important than ever to understand what is leading to your digestive issues. We’ve all heard about heartburn, GERD, Crohn’s, and the myriad of other digestive diseases, but how do your teeth come into the mix? Teeth are the beginning of the digestive process. Chewing food is the first step in converting your food into the molecules that the body needs. Research has actually proven that the ability to chew your food properly is just as important as the quality of the food you eat!
As a dentist, I have had patients come to me more times than I can count and they just want to fix their front teeth. They want me to pull the back ones, as long as their smile looks good. Here is just one of the problems with that. Not all teeth are alike. We all know this, but until you actually think about it, you may not realize that teeth are specifically placed where they are needed. Your front teeth, or incisors, are made for cutting or tearing food. They are too delicate to put the amount of force needed to actually chew food on them. This is why when people lose their back teeth, they start having problems with their front teeth. Your next teeth back, the premolars, are basically a hybrid between a front tooth and a back tooth. They can cut and tear a little and they can crush food a little, but they are not adept at doing either very well. They are the quintessential middleman. Your back teeth or molars are the key to good digestion. Their size and design help to grind and crush the food you eat into little particles that are easy to chew and digest.
The next problem is the misalignment of teeth. If a tooth is lost and not replaced in a timely fashion, teeth will start to shift. Even a shift of a millimeter is a huge change in your mouth. It can take teeth that fit perfectly together and make it so all of your teeth are only contacting at one point in your mouth. This makes proper digestion impossible. Think about a time when you got a seed of some sort stuck in your tooth. I’m a big raspberry fan so this is the easiest analogy for me. That tiny raspberry seed stuck on top of your tooth feels like a boulder. Your bite immediately feels off and I personally have to take care of it before I can keep eating. When your teeth shift after you lose one, it is the same phenomenon, but it happens gradually and often people are completely unaware that it is happening. Over months and years, their bite just changes and they adapt to their new bite and then wonder why all of the sudden they are having all of these new digestive issues popping up.
Obviously, there are thousands of reasons why you might be having digestive issues. However, if you want to start at the beginning, keep in mind that the first step is having a good bite and chewing your food properly. There are so many different ways to replace missing teeth and restore proper function. Nobody should have to suffer from digestive issues. Let us help get to the root of your problem so you can feel good again!