Not many people are aware of how teeth affect their facial structure until they lose one. Your teeth do much more than just help you chew and speak. They also provide support for your cheeks, lips, and the supporting muscles of your face. And when you lose teeth and don't replace them, your face shape changes considerably. Fortunately, dental implants can correct this.
Lost teeth mean lost bone structure
The main issue with losing teeth is the loss of bone that soon follows. After you lose a tooth, you may also begin to lose the bone that once supported that tooth. And if you lose multiple teeth on one or both sides of your jaw, the effect will be even more pronounced. As you lose bone, especially in the lower jaw, your jawbone can begin to shrink. This changes the shape of your face considerably.
Your cheeks may begin to sag, the shape of your mouth changes, and your face could even become asymmetric. But just as you can lose bone when you lose a tooth, you can also gain bone when you gain a tooth. This is where dental implants come in.
Dental implants help to restore lost bone
The main portion of a dental implant, the post, is composed of titanium. Titanium is highly biocompatible. This means that it can integrate with your jawbone and act much the same as a natural tooth's root. Once in position, the titanium post of a dental implant can stimulate bone growth.
In several months, enough bone may grow around a post to hold it in place. Once enough bone has grown around a dental implant, a dentist can then attach the dental crown—usually made of porcelain—to the abutment atop the titanium post. With the restored bone and tooth in position, your face will resemble its former shape and fullness.
However, in many cases, there isn't enough bone to support the titanium post of a dental implant. But that doesn't rule out a dental implant because you can opt to have a bone graft placed into the socket where the natural tooth once was. However, a bone graft can add several months to your treatment time. Once the graft heals, however, a prosthodontist can place your dental implant.
If your face shape has changed considerably because of one or more lost teeth, you can restore it by placing one or more dental implants. Once healed, your face will be fuller and more youthful.
Contact a dentist for more information about dental implants.