The Impact of Dental Implants on Your Facial Structure

Posted on: February 2, 2016

Dental ImplantsAs a provider of dental implants, we understand how drastically they impact the health and appearance of our patients.  While most people realize that one or several missing teeth can negatively impact how they look, few understand how significant the change can be.  When you lose a permanent tooth you are not only losing the tooth, you could also see changes to your entire facial structure.  This is because of something called resorption.

What is resorption?

Your bones need calcium.  This is a precious resource so if your body believes that your jawbone is no longer performing its assigned duty, it will leach calcium from your jaw to be used elsewhere.  This process of resorption occurs after tooth loss because the tooth was providing constant stimulation to the bone.  Without that stimulation, the jawbone appears to have lost its usefulness.

How does resorption impact my appearance?

As the density of your jawbone deteriorates, the bone can literally shrink in size.  This is what gives a lot of older people a sunken appearance.  Aside from the natural aging of the skin, the jawbone can make the most significant impact on how you look as you age. Keeping it strong and intact is critical for your appearance and dental implants can help with this after you have lost one or several teeth.

Why dental implants are so useful –

When we place dental implants, we are literally implanting a titanium post under the gums and securing it to the jawbone.  The body reacts to titanium like it does to natural matter so once the implant is secure, the body will begin to deposit bone around it.  This is called osseointegration.  This step in the process takes time but it is what gives your implant and new tooth the same stability that you have with your natural teeth.  Essentially, the implant serves as a new root for your replacement tooth.  From the perspective of your jawbone, the implant provides the stimulation that is necessary to indicate the jaws’ usefulness, effectively stopping the process of resorption.

Time is of the essence.

You should replace your teeth immediately after losing them.  Within the first year of tooth loss, you can expect to lose 25% to the width of your bone.  This can be prevented by taking immediate action.  We encourage you to call our office the same day that your tooth falls out.  In some cases, we can reattach it.  If not, we can prepare to replace it.  The implant procedure is done under anesthesia so that you will not feel anything and will most likely be asleep.  This makes it possible to remain comfortable during the entire process.  Your gums will be sore for a few days and you will need to eat soft foods. However, within a week or so you will feel completely normal.  The process of osseointegration can take several months and during this time, you can wear a temporary denture.  The good news is that the implant will begin to stimulate the jawbone from day one, so you will immediately stop the resorption process.  Later, the new tooth will be secured to an abutment that is attached to the implant.  The entire process takes time but is worth it, due to the long-term benefits of having a durable replacement tooth.

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