What You Need to Know About Tooth Loss

One of the most common misconceptions I encounter in my office is that the easiest solution to any dental problem is removing the offending tooth. Many people feel that once the tooth is lost, their dental problem is over. Most find out too late that loss of teeth leads to much more catastrophic problems down the road.

Bone Loss Results From Tooth Loss

In a recent survey by the Institute for Dental Implant Awareness, only 36% of respondents were aware that bone loss resulted from missing teeth. And, 75% of respondents with bridges, partials or dentures would have changed their minds about these treatment options, had they known about the bone loss/deterioration that would occur.

Why Does Bone Loss Result from Tooth Loss?

Natural tooth roots are embedded in the jawbone, providing a stable foundation that allows the teeth to function properly. When teeth are lost or extracted, the bone that previously supported these teeth is no longer needed and begins to deteriorate or resorb.

How Can this Bone Loss and Facial Structure Collapse be Prevented?

Dental implants serve as substitute tooth roots, providing the same function as natural tooth roots, including stimulating the bone, thereby preserving it and preventing the bone loss that would normally occur with tooth loss. The jawbone actually forms a bond with the dental implants, creating a stable foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth.

Posterior Bone Loss

When all of your posterior teeth are missing, the back of your mouth actually collapses as the bone deteriorates. The teeth in the front begin to flare out as the corners of your mouth begin to droop. Your appearance begins to change as the height of the jaw decreases. If your posterior teeth are replaced with a partial denture, the resorptive process is accelerated as the partial presses down on the gums and underlying bone as you eat. Replacing the posterior teeth with implant supported teeth preserves the bone, preventing this deterioration and collapse.

Facial Structure Collapse

When all of your teeth are missing, the jaws deteriorate rapidly. In addition, as the bone melts away your muscles migrate, or pull back from their natural position. Your lips cave in as they lose support and wrinkles increase dramatically as your facial structure collapses. This can also result in significant overall health problems related to improper digestion and malnutrition. Dentures accelerate the bone resorption process as they put pressure on and compact the gums and underlying bone. As facial structures continue to collapse, the dentures must be relined (made thicker) to compensate for additional bone loss. As the years go by and bone continues to be lost, less and less tissues are left to support the denture. The dentures become harder and harder to keep in. Foods like corn on the cob, apples, and salad become impossible to eat. Fear of the denture falling out in public erodes self confidence and people become afraid to smile or eat in public.

Replacing your missing teeth with implant supported overdentures or bridges will preserve the bone and prevent the further deterioration of facial structures and the related health and functional problems that would normally be associated with complete tooth loss.