The bones of your face deteriorate when you lose your teeth.
Did you know that when you have a tooth pulled you also lose the bone around it? If you lose several teeth in a row you quickly lose large quantities of the bone that kept you jaw strong and your face looking young. The more bone you lose, the more your face sags. If you ask the dentist to put those teeth back, odds are you will get a bridge, partial, or a denture that may even speed up the loss of bone.
How do you stop losing bone after you have lost your teeth?
A famous dental educator has stated that there are two ways to stop bone loss: eternal rest or dental implants. You see, when a removable dental appliance or denture sits on your gums, it may look and feel good for a while, but the bone that it sits on always goes away, quickly at first, and then slowly, but with very dramatic results. In fact, if you are wearing a denture that was made 10 years ago, it is likely that the denture does not fit your remaining jawbone or your face. Why do you think so many older denture patients wear dental adhesive? Their dentures just can’t hang on to what little bone is left.
How can you avoid losing the precious bone that makes your face look young and healthy?
Keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you lose a tooth, have it replaced with a dental implant before you lose the bone in your face. Dental implants restore the stress and strain to the bone in a healthy way so that it doesn’t atrophy. While it is unfortunate to lose one of your chewing tools, it is great news that it can be replaced with a long term dental implant. Your new tooth can be made to look and chew just like the one you were born with!
“But my tooth has been gone for a while. The dentist didn’t offer implants as an option. There is already a dent in my jaw where I know the bone is missing.”
A safe, inexpensive dental CT scan can precisely show the amount of bone lost so you can get the picture and make plans to stay healthy. Some of these areas can be restored with bone from your own mouth–a bone graft. Ouch? Not so bad. Sort of the same discomfort you experienced losing a tooth should be expected when having a bone graft with current techniques and medicines. After a few months healing, a dental implant and crown can be placed into the grafted bone to restore stability and beauty.
“What happens if I ignore these areas of bone deterioration?”
If you wait too long you can plan on wearing removable dental appliances forever. Frankly, dentures and dental adhesive were never something I wanted for me when I got old. I’ll take every small step I can to hold on to my teeth and the bone around my teeth, so I can chew and smile like a kid, even when I’m eighty…or a hundred!
Talk to your dentist about dental implants, bone grafting, and about how you can keep the bone of your jaws healthy. Don’t become a “dental cripple”. Discuss this problem with someone with training, experience, and knowledge about maintenance of your jaw bone health.