There are a lot of obvious consequences to losing your teeth:
- Your smile may not look the way you want it to
- Eating and speaking may be more difficult
- Your self-confidence may fade.
While serious, these are not the only impacts. There are hidden consequences of losing teeth that affect not only your appearance but also your health.
Jaw Bone Loss
Tooth loss leads to the loss of your jaw bone. Bone needs stimulation to maintain its form and density. In the case of the jawbone, that stimulation comes from your teeth. The small stresses produced by the constant contact between your teeth and your jaw bone are transmitted to the bone, prompting it to regenerate constantly.
When a tooth is lost, the stimulation it once provided disappears. Studies show that in the first year following tooth loss alone, there is a 25% decrease in jaw bone width. Over the next few years, your jaw bone can be affected by an overall 4 millimeters decrease in height.
If enough teeth are lost, and as bone loss continues, the distance from nose to the chin can decrease and the lower third of the face partially collapses. With a lack of structural support, the lips sag, and that can make it hard to smile or eat.
Extreme loss of bone can make an individual more prone to jaw fractures.
You may also find that some of your remaining teeth actually shift into the spaces left open by your missing teeth. This, in turn, can cause additional bite problems and even jaw joint (TMJ) pain.
Finally, compromised nutrition and poor general health can result if eating healthy foods like raw fruits and vegetables becomes too difficult without teeth.
Now here's the good news: dental implants — the state-of-the-art tooth-replacement method preferred by dentists — can prevent all this.
How Dental Implants Can Prevent Bone Loss
Besides helping a person without teeth look and feel great again, dental implants can actually help prevent bone loss. That's because they are made of titanium, which has the unique ability to fuse to living bone. By becoming fused to the jawbone, dental implants stabilize and stimulate the bone to maintain its volume and density.
Dental implants are placed during a minor surgical procedure using local anesthetic and then after a healing period, topped with a life-like dental crown. Together, these precision components look, feel, and function exactly like your natural teeth. Dental implant success rates exceed 95% — the highest of any tooth replacement option.