Did you know that missing teeth can lead to more than just an incomplete smile? When a tooth is lost, it can profoundly impact the underlying bone structure in your jaw. Over time, the jawbone may start to deteriorate, leading to various oral health issues. It is crucial to seek a restorative option for your missing tooth quickly. Otherwise, you could experience more severe dental consequences.
The Role of Teeth in Jawbone Health
To understand how missing teeth can cause jawbone loss, it’s important to grasp the natural relationship between teeth and the underlying jawbone. When you bite down, the force exerted by your teeth stimulates the surrounding bone, triggering a process known as bone remodeling. This remodeling maintains the health and density of the jawbone.
Consequences of Missing Teeth
When a tooth is lost and not replaced, several issues can occur.
Jaw Bone Resorption
The jawbone surrounding and supporting the tooth socket is the alveolar bone. When a tooth is missing, the biting force no longer stimulates the alveolar bone. Over time, this lack of stimulation leads to bone resorption, or the loss of bone mass. The jaw bone gradually shrinks, which can affect the stability and alignment of the surrounding teeth.
As the jaw bone resorbs, the overall volume and density of the jaw decrease. This process can go beyond the site of the missing tooth and affect other areas of the jaw as well. The longer the tooth is missing, the more significant the jawbone loss can become. This loss of jawbone can lead to facial changes, such as a sunken appearance or a prematurely aged look.
Shifting Teeth and Bite Problems
When you lose a tooth, the adjacent and opposing teeth may start to shift or tilt toward the gap. This can lead to misalignment and bite problems. Eventually, this can impact your ability to chew food properly and cause excessive wear on the remaining teeth. It can also increase the risk of developing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders and symptoms like jaw pain and headaches.
Difficulty in Dental Restorations
If you delay replacing a missing tooth, the surrounding bone structure may deteriorate. At some point, restoring the area with dental implants or other prosthetic options becomes challenging. Jawbone loss may require additional procedures, such as bone grafting, to rebuild the bone volume before implant placement.
Preventing Jawbone Loss
The good news is that you can prevent or minimize jawbone loss associated with missing teeth.
Promptly Replace Missing Teeth
If you have lost a tooth, you must seek tooth replacement options promptly. Dental implants are an excellent choice as they mimic the natural tooth structure, including the root, and stimulate the jawbone. Bridges and dentures can also help prevent further bone loss by redistributing biting forces to adjacent teeth and the underlying bone.
Consider Dental Implants
Dental implants are the gold standard for tooth replacement due to their durability, stability, and ability to preserve jawbone health. Your dentist will surgically place these titanium posts into the jawbone, serving as artificial tooth roots. Implants stimulate the bone, preventing resorption and maintaining the jawbone’s integrity.