Why Your Jaw Bone Is Shrinking

Posted on Feb 04, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Natural teeth are held into your jawbones by their tooth roots, which are embedded in the bone. Throughout the day, actions such as biting and chewing create physical stimulation to the jaw by each root. The tooth roots stimulate the bone so it maintains a healthy mass.

Once natural teeth are removed, the lower and upper jaw bone structures begin to shrink (or ‘resorb’) due to the lack of stimulation. While conditions such as osteoporosis, gum disease and oral cancer can attack healthy bone structure, the leading cause of bone loss (‘resorption’) is missing tooth roots.

Although dentures and partial dentures provide low cost replacement of teeth, they actually accelerate this rate of bone loss. These rest on top of gum tissue, placing pressure on the jaw bone ridge whiling providing no direct stimulation to the bone.

Custom bridges, a popular treatment for replacing missing teeth, are no help, either. The bone underlying the span of missing teeth will experience resorption since no bone stimulation is provided.

There are many repercussions to bone resorption. Facial changes can be seen at early stages by removing dentures or partials and looking in the mirror. Once bone loss is underway, you’ll notice your mouth seems to collapse into the face, the chin becomes more pointed, and deep wrinkles form around the mouth. Eventually, jowls form from the detachment of facial muscles from the jaws.

This photo shows a healthy bone mass compared to a resorbed jaw bone from tooth loss.

Profiles of healthy jaw bone and resorbed bone.

Profiles of healthy jaw bone and resorbed bone.

Other signs of bone loss are: Periodic changes in the way your denture fits; Sore spots on gum tissues; Food becoming trapped between the gums and denture; and, Difficulty chewing even with the help of denture adhesives and pastes.

Because they are secured by the jaw bone, Dental Implants recreate the stimulation of the natural tooth roots you once had. This halts the rate of bone loss and preserves bone mass.  For those who have already experienced severe bone loss, bone rebuilding procedures can be performed to restore adequate bone structure.

Let’s discuss a confident, secure and dependable smile during a consultation appointment. Call (828) 274-9440 to schedule.

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