When you lose teeth, the bone in your jaw stops being stimulated by teeth roots. As a result, the bone actually begins to shrink. Many patients think that if they lose their teeth they only need to get dentures and all of their problems will be solved.
Unfortunately, even patients with dentures will eventually suffer facial collapse, a condition we can treat At Desert Family Dental. If you have lost all of your teeth, even if you already wear dentures, call our Mesa, AZ dental office at (480) 838-4185 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Scott Lee to discuss options for preventing facial collapse.
The Cause of Facial Collapse
After all of your natural teeth have been lost or extracted, the jawbone is no longer stimulated and begins to deteriorate. During the first year after tooth loss, the width of the jawbone decreases by 25%. Over the next few years, there is approximately a four-millimeter decrease in the height of the jaw.
Your body senses that the bone in your jaw is no longer in use and absorbs the bone so it can use the minerals elsewhere. Over the course of 10-20 years, the jawbone completely shrinks, giving your face a sunken look and leaving you looking 10 or more years older than you actually are.
Health Issues Created By Facial Collapse
When the jawbone shrinks, it becomes virtually impossible to keep a denture in place. This can lead to dentures slipping out at awkward moments, causing embarrassment. Dentures that no longer fit well are uncomfortable and may cause sores in the mouth. Eventually, patients have trouble chewing, so their diets are limited to soft foods, which can lead to nutritional problems. Extreme bone loss can even make you more susceptible to jaw fractures.
Facial Collapse Can Be Prevented
Patients who have lost their teeth, whether due to decay, trauma, or extraction, do not have to suffer facial collapse. Dental implants stimulate the bone in your jaw, preventing atrophy. Patients who already suffer from facial collapse or do not have enough bone to facilitate implants can have a bone graft, which rebuilds bone density and improves candidacy for implants.
Dental Implants are tiny titanium posts that are surgically implanted into your jaw. During the healing process, the bone in the jaw fuses to the implants and grows around them, anchor them in place. Once healed, implants can hold snap-in or permanent dentures to give you a more youthful appearance and reliable, solid dentures that will not slip or wobble.
The Implant Denture Process
The implant denture process starts with a visit to our Mesa, AZ dental office for a consultation with Dr. Lee. The doctor will perform a thorough examination of your mouth and assess the density of your jawbone. If too much bone has been lost, a bone grafting procedure will need to be done before implants are placed. Once the doctor has approved you as a candidate for dental implants, he will create a treatment plan for you and discuss your options for anesthesia.
On the day of the surgery, you will come to our welcoming office, where our caring staff will make sure you are comfortable and begin administering any sedation or anesthesia. Usually, four to six implants will be placed in each arch to support dentures, enough to keep them from slipping or wobbling.
Once the implants are in place, you will be given temporary dentures to wear during the healing process. Healing typically takes three to six months, enough time for the bone in your jaw to fuse to the posts, providing a strong anchor. During this time, the doctor will design your permanent set of dentures.
Once healing is complete, you will return to our office, where the doctor will attach a small connector to each implant, called an abutment. Then you will receive your new dentures, which snap onto the abutments. The dentures are removable and should be taken out and cleaned every day. You should also be sure to brush the inside of your mouth to prevent gum disease and bad breath. You will need to attend regular dental checkups on a schedule set by the doctor, so he can check your implants and make sure your mouth is healthy.
Call for a Consultation
If you have lost some, or all, of your teeth it is important to take action as soon as possible to prevent the bone loss that leads to facial collapse. Call our Mesa, AZ dental office at (480) 838-4185 and request a consultation with Dr. Lee to discuss dental implants as a preventative measure, and keep your face looking full and healthy.