When one or more teeth are missing it can lead to bone loss at the site of the gap. This loss of jaw bone can develop into additional problems, both with your appearance and your overall health. You may experience pain, problems with your remaining teeth, altered facial appearance, and eventually even the inability to speak and/or eat normally.
In the same way that muscles are maintained through exercise, bone tissue is maintained by use. Natural teeth are embedded in the jaw bone and stimulate the jaw bone through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are missing, the alveolar bone, or the portion of the jaw bone that anchors the teeth into the mouth, no longer receives the necessary stimulation it needs and begins to break down, or resorb. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jaw bone, so it deteriorates. Studies have shown that the average bone loss at an extraction site is between 3-5 mm the first 3 months after extraction. We now have techniques to help eliminate this bone loss.
Potential Consequences of Tooth and Jaw bone Loss
Problems with remaining teeth, including misalignment, drifting, loosening, and loss
Collapsed facial profile
Limited lip support
Skin wrinkling around the mouth
Distortion of other facial features
Jaw (TMJ or temporomandibular joint) pain, facial pain, and headaches
Difficulty speaking and communicating
Inadequate nutrition as a result of the inability to chew properly and painlessly