Tooth loss can be caused by a variety of sources – dental trauma, tooth decay, infection, gum disease, impaction, or to make room for orthodontic treatment. However, when you lose a tooth, you also lose jawbone density.
At least, you do over time, if you don’t replace the missing tooth. The only way to preserve your existing jawbone is to replace teeth with dental implants. Read on in this blog from the Westlake Village dentist at Stephen Woodall Family Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry to learn more about how dental implants prevent bone loss.
Your jawbone is extremely important. It maintains your facial structure and your bite, provides stability for your teeth, and supports your facial muscles. However, once you lose a tooth, that tooth root no longer provides stimulation to the jawbone when you chew.
This means that the cells in your jawbone will no longer replenish themselves, leading to bone resorption. The consequences of bone resorption are steep and they happen fast. The bulk of the bone loss happens within just 6 months of losing a tooth and the bone loss is irreversible so it’s not going to come back.
As the jawbone continues to deplete, you will suffer from shifting teeth, changes to your facial structure, lack of support to the facial muscles, and changes to your bite that can cause orthodontic problems and TMD which leads to a lot of jaw pain and headaches as well as lack of mobility of the jaw.
Without enough healthy jawbone to support your facial muscles, you’ll suffer from facial sagging and over time, the changes to your features can be severe, leading to collapse in certain areas of the face. This bone loss will also increase your risk for additional tooth loss, and so the cycle continues.
Dental implants involve implanting a biocompatible titanium post into the jawbone. Over 3 to 6 months, the jawbone grows around the implant and they become integrated, forming an artificial tooth root and a stable base for a tooth replacement that will never move.
From here, the gums are reopened to attach an abutment, and then a dental crown is attached. Because implants restore the tooth’s root as well as the crown, the jawbone receives stimulation when you chew so that the jawbone can continue to regenerate new cells.
This prevents bone loss in the long term, especially because dental implants have a lifespan of 25 years to a lifetime. Most patients never need to replace them and they prefer them over dentures because they never move no matter how much you eat or speak. Implants are the only tooth replacement method that doesn’t lead to bone loss and prevents all of the consequences of bone loss.
While dental implants are the most superior option to replace missing teeth, there must be sufficiently healthy existing jawbone to support them. If you have had missing teeth for a long time or have jawbone loss because of teeth grinding or gum disease, you may not be a good candidate for dental implants – at least, not yet.
Thankfully, we can create the support needed to anchor dental implants by performing a bone grafting procedure. Most patients who receive dental implants need to undergo bone grafting first.
If you’re interested in dental implants in Thousand Oaks, contact us at Stephen Woodall Family Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stephen Woodall. We can examine your existing jawbone to determine if you will require bone grafting or if we can move forward with the implants.