Missing teeth can detract from your smile and affect your oral health. But when many of your teeth are missing, your facial appearance is also affected. Facial muscles begin to sag and eventually collapse.
What Causes Facial Collapse?
Tooth roots stimulate the jawbone. When all of your teeth are missing, the bone is without stimulation and your body begins to resorb it, taking the minerals to use elsewhere in the body. Loss of this bone causes your jaw to shrink, resulting in a condition called facial collapse. The presence of removable dentures puts pressure on the jawbone and will tend to accelerate the loss of bone somewhat.
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are placed in your jawbone. Implants stimulate your bone, preventing shrinkage. While bone resorption will only be prevented around the implants, as few as two implants supporting a denture will at least preserve the vertical dimension in the jawbone, preventing the appearance of aging in the face.
While having dental implants placed soon after tooth extraction will prevent this condition, what if you have already lost bone? The figure on the right shows the progressive loss of bone after all the teeth are extracted. The condition depicted in the jawbone at the bottom shows a state of complete facial collapse in which it would be very difficult to even wear a denture. That condition will occur from ten to twenty years after the loss of all the teeth. Fortunately, bone grafting techniques can build up the jawbone, restoring the facial appearance and providing enough bone to allow for the placement of dental implants. The bone grafting will need a number of weeks to heal, and then some additional time may be required for the placed dental implants to osseointegrate. But the end result will be a restoration of tooth function and full facial height.
Schedule an exam or a 30-minute consultation with Dr. Weiss to discuss your concerns about facial collapse, prevention, and treatment options.