Missing Teeth and Bone Loss
Your teeth are an important feature of your mouth. In addition to biting and chewing, your teeth play a role in speech and the quality of your smile. One of the lesser known roles of your teeth is the role they play in the health of your jawbone. When you lose your teeth, even just one or two, all of these functions are affected. Biting and chewing becomes more challenging, your smile suffers, and you may develop a lisp. Under the gums, tooth loss affects your jawbone, leading to bone loss. West End Dental can help.
What Causes Tooth Loss?
Tooth loss can be caused by many different issues. Common causes include:
The Effects of Tooth Loss on Your Jawbone
One of the lesser known roles of your teeth is that they help to preserve the health and integrity of your jawbone. When you chew, your teeth stimulate the bone. This stimulation tells your body that essential nutrients are required.
When you lose teeth, however, your jawbone loses stimulation. Because of this, your body begins to think that your jaw does not require as many nutrients, and therefore begins sending less. Over time, the bone begins to weaken and change shape. This can cause adjacent teeth to begin to shift out of alignment, which alters your bite. Losing bone mass in your jaw can also impact the shape of your face, leading to sagging skin and wrinkles.
How Can Bone Loss Be Stopped?
Tooth replacement is essential for restoring the functions of your teeth, your smile, and your quality of life. You have several different options for tooth replacement these days. While traditional bridges and dentures can help to restore many of the functions of your missing teeth, they cannot stop bone loss in your jaw. Because of this, your jawbone continues to lose mass despite replacing the teeth. The jaw continues to change shape, and your restorations need to be periodically replaced to accommodate your changing bone.
Dental implants are an alternative to traditional restorations. Not only do implants restore the functions of your missing teeth and the appearance of your smile, but they also help to restore the stimulation to your jawbone. The titanium posts that support your teeth are surgically implanted into your jawbone. The posts function like the roots of your natural teeth, stimulating the bone when you chew. Your body responds by sending the essential nutrients to your jawbone and surrounding areas. This helps to stop and prevent bone loss in your jaw.
For the implants to be successful, however, your jawbone needs to have sufficient bone mass remaining in it. Without enough bone mass, your jaw may not be able to provide the necessary support for your new teeth. This can result in loose posts and implant failure. Just because you are missing too much bone mass, however, this does not mean that you are ineligible for dental implants.
One way that dental implants can be made possible is with a bone graft. This is a surgical procedure that involves transplanting bone mass from one area of your body to another. In this case, bone material is often harvested from your hip or tibia and transplanted to the weakened areas of your jawbone. In some situations, donor bone material or bone from another species may be used. This procedure restores strength to your jaw, making it possible for the jawbone to hold your implant posts securely in place.
If you are missing an entire arch of teeth, it may be possible to place a full arch restoration without the need for a bone graft first. This treatment, known as All-on-4, involves the use of 4 strategically placed implant posts that maximize contact between the titanium and your jawbone. This aids in optimizing osseointegration while avoiding the need for additional surgery.
Bone loss is a natural occurrence following tooth loss that can cause serious issues. Dental implants can help to stop bone loss in its tracks, helping you to maintain the health and integrity of your jaw. For more information, and to schedule your consultation, call West End Dental today (503) 446-2957.