As a kid, you might have looked forward to a loose tooth finally falling out, because that meant a treat or cash from the tooth fairy. However, for an adult, losing a tooth is never a good thing. For one thing, tooth loss usually stems from some unpleasant circumstance – – a bad infection, an accident, or a lack of adequate dental care, for example. For another thing, losing a tooth can have some serious consequences — and those consequences affect more than just your smile. Here are some facts that you should know about the connection between tooth loss and jaw bone loss.
Your Teeth Are Responsible for Your Bone Density
The connection between your teeth and your jaw bone is important.
Bone isn’t a stagnant, unchanging material. It can gain or lose form and density, but it needs stimulation to do so. The stimulation that your jawbone needs comes from your teeth — specifically, it comes from the contacts your teeth make with each other.
Your teeth connect with each other hundreds of times a day. It happens when you’re eating and when you’re speaking, and it also happens when you’re just going about your day not thinking about it at all. It even happens while you’re asleep. And all of these connections serve the purpose of stimulating the bone underneath the teeth — your jaw bone. That stimulation is what allows the bone to constantly remodel and rebuild itself. Remove that stimulation by removing a tooth, and the bone in that area will begin to lose width, height, and volume.
Bone Loss Can Happen Fast
The more teeth you’re missing, the more serious the consequences for your jaw bone.
The bone loss that happens when you lose a tooth is a gradual process, but it’s not as gradual as you might think. The bone can lose as much as 25% of its height within a year of losing a tooth. This is why it’s important not to put o dealing with a missing tooth — the consequences are serious, and they can get away from you while you’re busy doing other things.
As you lose bone, you’ll begin to notice multiple changes. Some are aesthetic — hollow cheeks, sagging lips that give you an unhappy, frowning appearance — but others are functional. You may have trouble chewing or speaking, and you’ll be more prone to jaw bone fractures. The more teeth are missing, the more pronounced these problems become.
Dentures Are Not A Solution To Bone Loss
Dentures can give you teeth to connect with each other again, which makes chewing and speaking easier. However, dentures are not a solution to bone loss. The connections your dentures make with each other are only on the surface level; they don’t do anything to stimulate the bone underneath. This is one of the reasons that dentures have to be replaced every so often. As you lose bone and your face changes shape, the dentures don’t t as well, so you’ll need modifications or replacements for dentures to remain effective tooth substitutes.
Dental implants are a better solution. The titanium posts that hold dental implants in place are connected to the jaw bone, similar to a tooth root. When your implants connect with each other, the jaw bone is stimulated, preventing bone loss and allowing new growth.
If you’re missing teeth, it’s important to talk to your dentist about your tooth replacement options sooner rather than later. To make an appointment, contact us today.