Saving Face: Dental Implants & Your Jaw
When you were a child, you may have known someone who had dentures.
If you knew them for any length of time, then you may have noticed some ways that their appearance changed as they got older. In addition to the wrinkles that affect all people as they age, their face may have appeared to be sinking in on itself.
You may have attributed this to their missing teeth, and you would be partially correct if you did.
We will tell you more about what was happening in today’s post, but we’ll also explain how dental implants can prevent you from going through something similar.
Please feel free to contact Parkway Dental if you are interested in learning more about dental implants either for yourself or someone you care about. Our dentist office serves Snellville, GA, and several nearby communities.
The Root(s) Of The Problem
The roots of our teeth share some things in common with the roots of a tree.
Both are embedded in a mostly solid but ever-changing substance (bone or dirt), and both have the job of anchoring something in place (teeth or a tree).
While those roots provide stability in normal circumstances, they can be overcome by strong forces, by illnesses that weaken them, or by changes to bone or dirt.
With teeth, your jawbone and your roots work together to make one another stronger.
A healthy jaw will hold your teeth securely in place. In order to do this, your jaw needs to make new bone tissue as older tissue is reabsorbed.
Your roots play a vital role in this process. When you eat, you create pressure on your jaw with each bite and each chew. That pressure acts as a signal to let your jawbone know to make new tissue.
As long as you have your teeth, this is a cycle that benefits your teeth and your jawbone.
Without teeth, you don’t have roots to send the signals to your jawbone that new tissue is needed. Your jaw will continue to reabsorb old tissue. Since nothing is replacing the old tissue, your jawbone will lose mass and density.
Your Shrinking Jaw
Let’s take this example to the extreme end of someone who has lost all of his or her teeth.
Even with dentures, his or her jaw is not receiving enough pressure replace the old tissue. As this happen, his or her jaw will become physically smaller and smaller with time.
This affects the shape of their mouth, as well as the shape of his or her face. This also is what causes the sunken in appearance that is associated with missing teeth.
If you have traditional dentures, this can affect you in other ways a well. Dentures are designed to fit in your jaw. Generally, they are comfortable at first.
As your jaw loses mass, this changes the shape of your mouth. Over time, your dentures will not fit as well and may even become uncomfortable or loose. To correct this, many people will get their dentures refitted as needed.
Protecting Your Jaw
Dental implants do something that other teeth replacements (crowns, bridges, dentures) don’t. Implants replace your roots.
Like your roots, implants fit into your jaw. In a real sense, they serve as the anchors that hold other replacements in place.
You will need a series of dental implants to support a set of dentures. When the dentures are attached to your implants, you now have created a means of applying pressure to your jawbone once again.
This pressure won’t replace bone that has been lost, but it will encourage new bone growth to maintain the current shape of your jaw. This makes your dentures more useful from a functional standpoint, and it reduces the odds that you will need to have your dentures refitted due to changes in the shape of your mouth.
It’s also worth noting that this bone loss can occur in select parts of your mouth if you lose just one or two teeth. Again, a dental implant can prevent this problem from spreading (and causing additional lost teeth).
In these cases, a dental implant can support a dental crown or bridge to replace the root and fill in the gap in your smile.
The best option to replace lost or missing teeth starts with dental implants. This provides the support for replacement teeth and helps your jaw remain healthy and strong.