When one or more teeth are missing, it can lead to jaw bone loss at the site of the gap. This loss of jaw bone can develop into additional problems, both with your appearance and your overall health. You may experience pain, problems with your remaining teeth, and altered facial appearance, and eventually even the inability to speak and eat normally.
In that same way that muscles are maintained through exercise, bone tissue is maintained by use. Natural teeth are embedded in the jaw bone, and stimulate the jaw bone through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are missing, the alveolar bone, or the portion of the jaw bone that anchors the teeth in the mouth, no longer receives the necessary stimulation, and begins to break down, or resorb. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jaw bone, so it deteriorates and goes away.
Potential Consequences of Tooth and Jaw Bone 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 (temporomandibular joint [TMJ]) pain, facial pain, and headaches
- Difficulty speaking and communicating
- Inadequate nutrition as a result of the inability to chew properly and painlessly
- Sinus expansion
- Decreased confidence