While tooth loss is not a given for growing older, many of us will lose teeth at some point during our lives. Many people associate tooth loss with a shrunken appearance as the lower jaw moves closer to the upper jaw. This change in appearance can be prevented with dental implants.
Long-Term Effects of Missing Teeth
If you have lost teeth—or even one tooth—and do not have them replaced, your overall oral health will suffer in the long run. Missing teeth leave spaces in your mouth, and your remaining teeth will automatically shift to fill in the empty areas. When they move, the natural alignment of your teeth changes. This can lead to problems like:
- Excessive wear and tear
- Temporomandibular joint disorder
- Eventual loss of more teeth
In addition, missing teeth can cause the bone in the jaw to atrophy over time. Without the tooth root, the jawbone is not stimulated regularly and thereby stops regenerating. This leads to the shrunken facial appearance stereotypically depicted in elderly people. Jawbone atrophy is common in people who have worn dentures over a long period of time, or who have simply not had missing teeth replaced.
How Implants Improve Your Appearance
Having your missing teeth replaced helps keep your other teeth in the right position. It also helps you maintain your smile and confidence in your overall appearance. This is true even if you have your teeth replaced with dentures or a bridge.
With dental implants, though, you receive all these advantages while also ensuring the long-term health of your jawbone. Implants have an artificial root, so they stimulate bone growth as you eat and chew. This prevents the eventual reduction in bone mass that brings the lower jaw closer to the upper jaw and changes the overall shape of the face.
Contact our team of dental specialists at Northern Virginia Oral, Maxillofacial & Implant Surgery to evaluate your individual circumstances and determine if dental implants will work well for you.