Losing Teeth Can Lead To Shrinking Jaw Bone

Posted on May 24, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you’ve worn dentures or partials for ten years or more, take a moment to literally see what is going on with your jaw bone.

Remove your denture or partial and look in the mirror. You may notice deep wrinkles around your mouth. The corners of your mouth may turn downward even when you smile. Your mouth may appear to be slightly sunken in, moreso than when you had your natural teeth. You may have jowls on the sides of your face.

These are all telltale signs of bone loss. This occurs beneath the gum tissue because your jaw bone is shrinking. Here is why this occurs.

Healthy Jaw Bone Vs Bone Loss From Missing Teeth

When a tooth root is removed from the jaw bone, the bone is no longer nourished and stimulated by the root. Thus, a process known as ‘resorption’ begins. Resorption is a term used to describe a shrinking or declining mass of jaw bone.

Bone resorption also leaves adjacent teeth susceptible to the effects of bone loss. As the area of bone declines in height and width, neighboring teeth are at a greater risk of cavities, gum disease, and tooth fractures. It is a fact that when a tooth is lost, the one next to the one missing is most likely the next to be lost.

And, it’ not just tooth loss that contributes to a shrinking jaw bone. The pressure on the gums from wearing a denture or partial denture adds to the rate of bone loss. For those who sleep in their dentures, this constant pressure accelerates this rate even more.

For people who opt to replace a tooth (or teeth) with a crown-&-bridge, they can also expect bone loss. Over time, this can be detected through a gap that appears between the bridge and gums. In a smile, this gap may be visible.

As a periodontal specialist, the most common complaint I hear from those who wear dentures or partials is having discomfort while eating. Many long-time denture and partial wearers experience sore spots on tender gum tissues. This occurs because their appliances move when chewing.

This movement is the result of the declined bone mass that supports the denture. This gum-covered ‘ridge’ where teeth were once held flattens as the jaw bone declines in height and mass. Because a denture or partial is made to contour to this ridge, it begins to slip as the bone shrinks. This is when people tend to use denture adhesives and pastes more frequently.

To avoid discomfort when eating, denture wearers may adjust their diets to consist of soft foods that dissolve easily in the mouth. In many cases, these diets lack the nutritional benefits of fiber, vitamins and protein necessary for a healthy body. Due to fear of embarrassing slips, people also begin to avoid social gatherings where food is the centerpiece.

It stands to reason that there is a need to replace more than the presence of teeth. This is why so many dentists and dental specialists now recommend Dental Implants. Over the years, they have proven to be a successful alternative to dentures and partial dentures.

There are many advantages to Dental Implants. From a health standpoint, I see their ability to halt bone loss as a leading benefit. Dental implants are placed in the jaw bone, recreating the stimulation of tooth roots. This helps to preserve the strength of the jaw bone while restoring biting strength and chewing stability.

I also like that Dental Implants are self-supporting since they use the jaw bone for support. They do not rely on having otherwise-healthy, natural teeth crowned for the mere purpose of supporting replacement teeth (as in crown-&-bridge combinations).

From a value perspective, Dental Implants are an excellent investment. With proper selection, placement and care, they are designed to last your lifetime. And, it’s an investment you’ll enjoy every day as you comfortably eat foods you love, smile and laugh without worry, and wake up with a smile!

There is much to know as to why keeping your natural teeth is so important. However, when tooth loss does occur, you can protect your health and well-being by replacing them with Dental Implants. With Dental Implants, you are able to avoid the long-term repercussions of bone loss.

Ask about Dental Implants to restore a natural look and feel while you protect surrounding teeth and bone structure. As a Periodontist with advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of all types of implant systems, I can recommend options that will work best for your individual situation.

Call 828-274-9440 to learn more or ask for a consultation appointment to personally discuss your needs and preferences. If you’ve already experienced a great deal of bone loss, I’ll explain methods to rebuild your bone to a healthy level, often with no grafting needed.

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