Teeth — are they really necessary? As you get older and perhaps become frustrated about dealing with teeth issues, it’s tempting to wonder why you need them. Perhaps if they were all gone and you gummed your food well enough, that would just be fine. If you got over the embarrassment of being toothless, would that solve your problems?
The answer is no, it wouldn’t. Being without teeth can create a whole different set of problems, so that doesn’t get you off the hook. The reason they are important is because is your body is an integrated whole, designed for various body parts to work in collaboration with other body parts as part of a complete bodily system.
Chewing and the Digestive Process
Chewing food is the first step in the digestive process. This WebMD video shows how the food absorption process begins with chewing.
Good chewing breaks food down and allows nutrients to be absorbed. When you eat foods that have gone through a blender and don’t have to chew, the important chewing step gets skipped, which is why a continuous diet of blended food isn’t a healthy way to eat. Your mouth secretes saliva during chewing and the saliva stimulates a muscle at the bottom of your stomach, which lets food pass through to the small intestine. During chewing, your mouth also sends signals that reach your pancreas, which produces digestive enzymes for the small intestine to break down food.
Gums Can’t Do the Job that Teeth Do
When you have no teeth, the jaws and gums must work overtime. They were never designed to apply as much pressure as teeth do, nor do they grind up food effectively. When gumming your food, you’ll end up with sore gums and jaw muscles. Doing so can even result in gum infections or TMJ disorder (aching pain around your jaw and ear).
Your intestines won’t be happy when chunks of food arrive. Undigested food hanging out in the digestive tract can lead to bacterial problems, indigestion and flatulence.
It’s a lot easier to just brush and floss regularly and take care of your teeth and gums.
Do You Have Questions?
Dr. Baker is glad to answer your questions and can help you take good care of your teeth and gums.