When patients lose teeth, it is no surprise that they also lose some chewing function. But what many patients are surprised to learn is that tooth loss also leads to bone loss. In the first year following tooth extraction, patients can experience a 25% decrease in bone width and lose 4 millimeters of bone height. In cases where all of the patient’s teeth are lost, these changes in bone volume have serious effects on facial appearance and chewing capabilities. As bone loss progresses over time, dentures can become loose, often causing pain and compromising function even further. The consequences of bone loss include diminished support for the mouth and face, chin rotates forward, facial height collapses, and chewing ability worsens over time.
Bone requires the stimulation of functioning teeth to maintain its height and width. To reduce or stop bone loss, the missing teeth must be replaced. This is only possible with dental implant treatment. Dental implants are titanium metal cylinders that replace tooth roots. They are placed into the jaw bones where bone grows into them and locks them in place. Dental implants are used very effectively to replace missing teeth. Dental implants may comfortably and permanently replace one or more teeth, and are regarded by many as one of the most important advances in dentistry in the last 50 years. Training in the placement of implants includes proper diagnosis, treatment, site preparation, (including the reconstruction of bone and soft tissues), and maintenance.