It’s a dental fact of life: When you lose teeth you also lose the bone in your jaw; this is called bone resorption. When patients with missing teeth first come to our East Aurora dental office, we inform them of this fact, since patients often complain how it negatively impacts their quality of life. Bone resorption happens to the elderly, astronauts and especially to individuals who have lost teeth and are wearing dentures.
Here’s a common scenario at our dental office: an individual comes to see us who’s been wearing dentures for a long period of time and the dentures no longer fit properly. Ill-fitting dentures can cause sore spots and pain, as well as slip and slide as the patient is eating and talking. Food and bacteria get stuck under the dentures, causing bad breath, embarrassment and loss of confidence when speaking, laughing and eating. Many people complain their once great fitting dentures have gotten loose and don’t fit anymore. People are very surprised to learn that it’s not their denture that has shrunken, it’s actually their jawbone, and just as many are concerned to learn that bone loss will continue unless something is done to stop the shrinking. The only way to stop jawbone loss is to replace missing teeth with dental implants.
We may not continue to grow taller as we age, that doesn’t mean our bones don’t continue to grow – they do. Even though an individual’s bones aren’t getting taller or stronger, they continue to respond to the body and its needs. This means, when you lose a tooth, there is nothing for the jawbone to provide structure to or nourishment for and the bone in that area will begin to recede – resorb into itself. Your body will remove bone tissue and if there is nothing to replace it, it will simply go away. Dental implants prevent this because the implant itself is placed into the jaw bone and this makes that area of your mouth remain viable and your body will continue to grow bone mass. If your body craves calcium in another area, it will provide it there and not at the area where a tooth is lost and the calcium is no longer needed.
A patient’s teeth play a crucial role in the continuing stimulation of the jawbone and continues to “force” your body to maintain body mass in that area. If you’ve lost teeth, your body is already removing bone mass in that area. Dental implants will help you to reclaim that bone and strength in your jaw. Without teeth or without dental implants, you will find that you’re looking older than your actual age and that you will notice you have sunken cheeks.
Individuals who have opted to wear dentures may find they need to have their dentures re-fitted almost yearly because of the rate at which resorption occurs.
Having a dental implant procedure to address lost or damaged teeth means you will not lose bone, will not look older than your years because of dental issues and will help you regain your smile.