When one or more teeth are missing it can lead to bone loss at the site of the gap. This loss of jawbone 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 jawbone and stimulate the jawbone through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are missing, the alveolar bone, or the portion of the jawbone 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 jawbone, so it deteriorates.
Potential Consequences of Tooth and Jawbone 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
- Sinus expansion