The Hidden Cost of Tooth Loss: Exploring the Problem of Bone Resorbtion
Tooth loss is surprisingly common in the UK, despite the fact we are the second most likely nation in Europe to visit our dentist regularly. The Oral Health Foundation recently found that 74% of us have had at least one tooth extracted, although only 6% of us have no natural teeth at all – a considerable improvement compared with a similar study in 1978, which saw 37% of the UK population with no natural teeth remaining.
Whether you have undergone tooth extraction because of ill health (decay or gum disease), or have lost a tooth as the result of an accident or injury, any dentist will stress the importance of replacing those lost teeth as quickly as possible.
This is because tooth loss can cause a wide range of problems, some of which will be obvious and others less so. Having a gap-toothed smile can lead to issues with body image and self-confidence, which can be detrimental to your mental wellbeing and your social life. Your ability to eat a healthy diet may be compromised, and your speech can be altered, too.
One of the lesser-known consequences of tooth loss is resorbtion or shrinkage of the jaw bone. At Sheen Dental in Richmond dental implants are often recommended as a solution to tooth loss, because they are the only tooth replacement option that actively addresses the concern of bone loss.
Our teeth comprise roots and crowns, and when the roots are missing for any significant period of time the jaw bone is likely to resorb. This can make placing dental implants more difficult (although not impossible these days, with procedures such as bone grafts and bone expansion available).
Bone loss is the primary reason that people who wear traditional dentures often find that they become increasingly loose and uncomfortable. You may find yourself visiting your dentist frequently to have your dentures relined or otherwise adjusted as your bone ebbs away.
In some cases, the entire structure of your face can change, as your lips may collapse, the skin around the lower jaw may sag, and the reduction of healthy bone tissue leaves you looking old before your time. Prompt replacement of lost teeth is essential to keeping your jaw healthy and your bone strong.