Modern dentistry seeks to restore comfort, speech, aesthetics, normal functions as well as health to those individuals that have lost teeth. This is the answer to the rise in the number of people experiencing loss of teeth due to aging. This task becomes even more challenging when a person has more teeth missing. Consequently, continued research in the development of innovative treatment and diagnostic tools has made predictable success a reality in the face of numerous challenging dental situations. This is seen as a blessing because of the serious consequences of tooth loss especially among the elderly people that have a high likelihood of missing teeth.
The Unseen effects of tooth loss
Although it is obvious that missing teeth affects your overall appeal, this may in turn have social and psychological consequences that are profound. That is, it is more than just the unsightly gaps as loss of teeth can affect health, function, facial aesthetics and just about everything.
Loss of Bone Density
The loss of teeth is not just about teeth but all about the bone that requires to be stimulated in order to maintain its density and form. For instance, the alveolar, which supports teeth, gets its stimulation from the teeth. As your teeth make fleeting contacts during the day, the small stresses that come out of it are transmitted through the periodontal ligament that suspends teeth in their socket causing the bone to continually rebuild and remodel.
Thus, in the case of tooth loss, the absence of teeth essentially translates to the loss of alveolar bone owing to the lack of stimulation. This loss affects the height, width as well as bone volume. Generally, a percentage decrease of the width that is recorded during the first year may be up to 25% with an overall loss in height of up to 4 millimeters.
Decrease in Gum Tissue
As the loss of bone height and width progresses, the gum tissue decreases gradually effectively impairing the ability to speak and chew. Thus, the more teeth you lose the more this function is lost. This causes serious functional and aesthetic problems especially in people who are toothless.
This does not end there because when the alveolar bone is lost, the basal bone that is beneath it, also referred to as the jawbone proper will begin to melt away. The effect of this is that the distance from the chin to the nose will decrease while the lower third of the face will undergo partial collapse. Consequently, the chin will rotate upward and forward as the cheeks have lost support effectively becoming hollow. Extreme cases of loss of bone can also result in being disposed to jaw fractures. A bite collapse may occur where the back teeth that support the height that is the vertical dimension of the face are missing. The result of this is that the front teeth will be pushed or squashed forward.
Ingenuity at its best
Tooth replacement is the ultimate solution to debilitating bone loss. However, this is dictated by the number of teeth lost. For instance, a single missing tooth can be replaced through a tooth implant that replaces the root on which a dental crown is then attached. The implant is made from pure titanium and has a biocompatible property allowing it to osseointegrate with the jawbone.
A crown attaches to the implant that feels, looks and functions like a normal tooth. In the event that the dental crown needs removal or replacement, it can be removed ensuring that the implant is not damaged or compromised. Dental implants offer numerous health advantages that include decreased risk of gum diseases and no risk of decay. The risk of abutment tooth decay, endodontic failure will be reduced while aesthetics will improve. There are significant psychological advantages as well.
Replacing multiple teeth
About 30 million Americans have had their arch of teeth missing. While this rate is on a gradual decrease, the increase in the elderly population is rapid; thus, it is expected that the number of adults that will require complete dentures will rise to 37.9 million by 2020.
Implant dentists recommend implants because they may be used to support tooth bridges without need for a full arch or abutment teeth that rely on the support of the underlying bone and gums. Implants prevent an accelerated decrease in jawbone and alveolar loss compared to removable dentures.
Besides, dentures also reduce the function to a sixth of the level that was experienced when you had natural teeth while implants may restore function close to normal limits. A removable partial denture or a fixed tooth bridge is more stable compared to a denture relying on soft tissues for support. Removable dentures usually affect the ability to chew. This is backed by studies that show 29% of people who wear dentures eat mashed or soft foods only, 50% avoid most of the foods and 17% claim they eat efficiently without dentures. Those wearing dentures avoid fruits and vegetables and this can result in digestive tract problems, poor nutrition and shortened life expectancy.
How Implants stop Bone Loss
Dental implants are integrated and fused in your jawbone to serve as an anchor to support teeth as well as for better preventive maintenance procedure. Missing teeth is the primary reason for considering dental implants. Since bones require stimulation for them to stay healthy, implant supported teeth promote normal functioning of the jaw including muscles, nerves and jaw joints. Furthermore, they fuse in the bone stimulating and stabilizing it thereby maintaining density and dimension. As such, dental implants offer improved functions, bone preservation, increased longevity, enhanced psychological wellbeing and dental restoration.
If you are suffering from the after effects of losing a teeth and are considering tooth implants, make an appointment with our friendly Smile Team at Joshua Hong DDS and know more the various options and treatment procedures you can choose from.