Outcomes of Delaying Dental Implants
In the United States, 70% of the population is missing at least one tooth – usually one of the back teeth. One of the more obvious impacts of missing teeth is on beauty. Our looks go a long way for us, and we can naturally develop social and psychological sensitivity as a result of tooth loss. But it’s not just about unshapely gaps; there’s something less apparent going on in the vicinity of a lost tooth that can impact functionality and your overall oral health.
There are various consequences of losing your teeth. But the most significant effects come when you ignore the problem. Many people still think that dental implants are cosmetic in nature, and do not realize that this modern procedure actually prevents the gradual bone loss and restores the normal functionality and comfort for those who are missing teeth.
Strangely enough, the bones are at much more risk than teeth because the bones need to maintain their form and density through an equilibrium of pressure and stimulation from teeth. In the case of alveolar (sac-like) bone which surrounds and supports teeth, the necessary stimulation comes directly from the teeth where they make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other throughout the day. These small stresses are transmitted through the periodontal ligament that suspends each tooth in its socket, prompting the bone to remodel and rebuild continually.
When you lose a tooth, this apparent scarcity of stimulation causes loss of the alveolar bone — its external width, then height, and ultimately the bone volume. Typically, there is a 25% decrease in the width of a bone during the first year after tooth loss and an overall decrease of 4 millimeters in height over the next few years.
It doesn’t stop there.
After the alveolar bone is lost, the bone beneath it – the basal bone – also begins to melt away. The distance from our nose to chin decreases and with it, the lower third of the face partially collapses. The chin begins to rotate forward and upward simultaneously, and the cheeks start hollowing. Extreme loss of bone can also make us more prone to jaw fractures as its volume continues to deplete.
Whether you’ve just lost a tooth (or teeth), or have been overlooking your missing tooth for 6 months now, don’t wait any further. It’s not always too late to get your oral health back in great shape but the longer it’s delayed, the more strenuous the process.