Discussing Tooth Loss
Our goal at the dental office of Susan Weinberg is to maintain happy and healthy mouths for all of our patients and prevent tooth loss. Often times this will require some restoration of the mouth in order for the patient to have a normal function which includes comfort, esthetics, good speech, and good health. The more teeth the patient is missing the more difficult the goal becomes. With the advancement of dental implant technology success is a reality for reversing many of the challenges our patients face when they lose a tooth.
The consequences of tooth loss are great. When you have missing teeth, the bone gets no stimulation from the loss of the tooth and starts to become less dense. Studies have proved that normal chewing forces that are transmitted from the teeth to the bone of the jaw are what preserves the bone and keeps it strong. An implant can re-stimulate the bone and make it strong again. Implants are not just for patients who have lost one or two teeth, they are also possible for those that have lost or will lose all of their teeth.
Patients who wear dentures do not realize how much bone they are losing. The issue of bone loss once you lose teeth has mostly been ignored in the past by traditional dentistry. The reason being that dentistry had no treatment to prevent or even stop the loss of bone. Because of that dentists have had to ignore the inevitable loss of the bone once a tooth is extracted. In today’s dentistry, we understand the disadvantages of bone loss and how the dental implant can prevent this.
When the jaw loses bone it is not just limited to the bone around the teeth. As bone decreases in width and height, gum tissue also begins its gradual decline. Loss of gum tissue will often complicate the situation. A patient with no teeth or little teeth will also experience an increase in the size of their tongue.
Our faces change with age but a patient with tooth loss will see an acceleration in facial aging. As the bone loss progresses, the bite relationship deteriorates and the chin can rotate forward adding to a poor facial appearance.
The Silberg Center For Dental Science said “A study of 367 denture wearers (158 men and 209 women) found that 47% exhibited a low chewing performance. Lower intakes of fruit and vegetables and vitamin A were also noted in this group. These patients took significantly more drugs (37%) compared to those with a superior chewing ability (20%), and 28% were taking medications for stomach or intestinal disorders. The reduced consumption of high fiber foods could, therefore, induce stomach or intestinal problems in patients without teeth with deficient chewing performance. In addition, as the coarser food is chewed it may impair proper digestive and nutrient extraction functions. The literature provides several reports that suggest that compromised dental function results in poor swallowing and chewing performance which in turn may negatively affect overall health and favor illness, debilitation, and shortened life expectancy.
Several reports in the literature correlate the patient’s health and life span to their dental health. After conventional risk factors for stroke and heart attacks were accounted for, there was a significant relationship between dental disease and heart or blood vessel disease, still the major cause of death. It is legitimate to believe that restoring the mouth of patients to a more normal function may indeed enhance the quality and length of life”.
The effect that tooth loss has on individuals is enormous. Although dentures can help with the appearance of one’s smile, many patients withdrawal from social environments. For many, wearing dentures is complicated and uncomfortable. This set of patients will rarely leave their homes due to the fear of having to speak to others without their teeth.
The technology that we have in dentistry today with dental implants, we can successfully prevent bone loss and maintain the facial structure. We are able to make our patients feel better about their smile and themselves.