Anyone who has missing teeth knows that they can put a serious damper on your willingness to smile or laugh in the company of others. A full set of teeth is a sign of health and beauty, and missing teeth are usually accompanied by a loss of confidence. But it can get much worse than that if you don’t replace them. Missing teeth can make it difficult to chew or speak properly, and they can even change the structure of your face and jawbone, distorting your facial features so you no longer look like you.
How missing teeth affect the jawbone
As much as it may sound like we’re trying to scare you into coming in to talk about tooth replacement options (And, yes, we are. It really is that important.), everything we’re saying is true. Your missing teeth will result in the collapse of your entire face if you don’t have them replaced. Here’s how it works:
Your teeth and your jaw have a mutually beneficial relationship. The jawbone anchors the teeth in place while you chew and talk and laugh and bite. And in turn, all that activity stimulates the growth and strength of your jawbone, giving it a purpose to keep doing what it’s doing. But as soon as a tooth is removed from the socket, whether due to decay, accident, or injury, the bone begins to deteriorate.
Bone tissue is maintained by use, and the deterioration happens quickly. If a missing tooth is not replaced, as much as 25% of the bone beneath it can melt away within the first few months. By 6 months, it can be as much as 50%. It doesn’t stop at the bone beneath that single missing tooth, however. The deterioration spreads, causing the remaining teeth to shift out of alignment or become loose and fall out. As the process continues and you lose more teeth without replacing them, it becomes difficult to eat and speak properly. And you quickly add decades to your appearance.
How missing teeth affect the face
Your upper and lower jawbones account for a third of your face. As the bone becomes reabsorbed by the body due to disuse, your face loses its underlying structure. With less and less jawbone to support your facial features as you know them, here’s what happens:
- Your cheeks collapse inward
- Your skin begins to sag
- Your lips fold inward
- The distance between your chin and nose becomes smaller
- Your nose appears larger
- An overall facial collapse adds years to your appearance
Additionally, you may develop sinus problems, and while this may not directly affect the way you look, it can certainly affect the way you feel and your quality of life. As your teeth shift and the bite becomes misaligned, it becomes difficult to chew, which will not only change your enjoyment of food but it can also negatively impact your nutritional intake, potentially leading to issues with overall health.
So what’s the solution? Replace your missing teeth as soon as possible.
What is the best tooth-replacement option?
There are a number of different tooth replacement options available, but the dental implant is the only one that preserves the jawbone (and therefore the facial structure). While other options use prosthetics to replace only the crown of the tooth, dental implants replace both the crown and the root. By surgically embedding the implant into the jawbone, it does the job of a natural tooth root, providing the stimulation the jawbone needs to stay strong and healthy. However, if your teeth have been missing for a long time, you may not have sufficient jawbone density to support an implant. If this is the case, a dental bone graft can be used to help build up the jawbone prior to the implant procedure.
Need dental implants? Come see us at San Diego Periodontics and Implant Dentistry!
Dental implants and dental bone grafts are extensive surgeries. The best chances of implant success come when it’s done by someone who specializes in the procedures. If you’re missing teeth and want to replace them with dental implants, with or without dental bone grafts, you’ll appreciate the precision and artistry Dr. Kwok brings to his practice.
As a Board Certified specialist in periodontology and dental implant surgery, Dr. Kwok has the skill and experience needed to provide his patients with excellent implant results and a positive experience. Give us a call at 619-543-0905 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to discussing what we can do to restore your most attractive and healthiest smile today.