People with missing teeth sometimes look older than they really are as a result of the deterioration of jawbone that comes with tooth loss. Our Abbotsford dentists explain why this happens and how dental implants can help.
Missing Teeth & Your Jaw Bone
To maintain its density and form, bone needs stimulation. For the jawbone, that stimulation comes from the teeth. Your teeth make hundreds of brief contacts with each other every day. These contacts produce small stresses on the teeth, which are transmitted to the bone. This prompts it to continuously regenerate.
When you lose a tooth, the stimulation it provided for the surrounding bone disappears, resulting in bone loss.
When enough teeth are lost and the bone continues to deteriorate, the distance from nose to chin will start to decrease in a condition known as facial collapse. Lacking structural support, the lips sag. This is why people with missing teeth can appear unhappy and much older than they really are. Over time, bone loss can also make you more susceptible to jaw fractures.
In addition to jaw bone deterioration, the teeth that remain will start to shift into the gaps left by the missing teeth. In turn, this can cause additional bite problems and even jaw joint (TMJ) pain.
How Dental Implants Help
Dental implants are natural-looking tooth replacements that can prevent all this. For starters, dental implants care restore the function and aesthetics of your smile, allowing you to eat and speak like you did before, and enjoy the look and feel of healthy and strong teeth.
In addition, dental implants actually prevent bone loss. This is because they are made of titanium, which can fuse to living bone. When dental implants are surgically implanted into the jaw, they become a permanent part of it, stimulating and stabilizing the bone to help it maintain its volume and density.
Dental implants are placed during an in-office surgical procedure using local anesthetic. Then, either right away or after a healing period, they are topped with dental crowns. Together, these components look, feel and function almost exactly like a natural tooth would.
With regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings — the same maintenance and care that natural teeth require — your dental implants can last for many years, and possibly even for life.