Dental Implants & Facial Appearance
When women begin to show signs of aging, including the development of fine lines and wrinkles on the face, they may worry about the need for plastic surgery. However, many women do not realize that the changes in their facial appearance may not be due to skin laxity alone, but due to tooth loss and the use of full dentures.
How do traditional full dentures impact a patient’s facial appearance?
Tooth loss occurs in millions of Americans each year and may occur due to trauma, disease, or manual extraction. When these issues arise, many patients turn to prosthetics such as dentures. In fact, according to the American College of Prosthodontists, approximately 90 percent of individuals who have lost one or more teeth turn to dentures for repair and to restore function to their smile. While dentures may be an affordable and effective solution for tooth restoration, they can have a negative impact on the contours of the face due to resorption.
What is dental resorption and how does resorption affect my appearance?
Teeth that are firmly in the alveolar bone, or the jaw bone, help the body maintain the bone in these areas to keep the teeth firmly in place. Unfortunately, when teeth are lost or removed, the body believes that the bone is no longer needed. This triggers bone resorption, which may result in partial bone loss in the jaw. The body may also seek nutrients such as calcium from the bone as the body believes that this bone no longer needs to be maintained.
The result? A sunken appearance around the mouth area due to gradual bone loss in the jaw. By using full dentures to restore the smile, patients will experience consistent changes to their jaw as it shrinks. This can result in prosthetics that do not fit or function properly after a few years or even months. Replacement of these restorations over time can become costly for patients.
Video 00:51 | Watch Dr. Walton demonstrate how dental implants help preserve your jaw bone.
How can I stop dental resorption from occurring?
First and foremost, patients who have teeth lost or extracted need to speak to their dental provider about immediate restoration. There are many different methods available for repairing the smile after tooth loss, including:
Because most of these do not impact the jaw, patients may still experience bone loss after tooth loss. Fortunately, men and women can use one of these restorations to maintain their jaw bone and keep dental resorption from damaging the facial appearance: dental implants.
How can dental implants keep dental resorption from occurring?
Dental implants are titanium restorations that are commonly used for replacing one or more teeth. These small posts are placed into the gums and jawbone. Because this restoration is newly implanted, the body starts the depositing bone in the area through a process referred to as osseointegration. This builds the surrounding bone to solidify the dental implant into the jawbone to add stability and strength. Once the implant is properly rooted into the bone, it can be restored with various restorations to replace the missing teeth, bringing back beauty and functionality to the smile.
Why Are Dental Implants The Best Solution For Tooth Loss?
Aside from maintaining bone density in the jaw and keeping the jawbone from shrinking, dental implants have other benefits that patients can consider as well. These restorations are natural-looking and fully functioning, acting just as previous natural teeth did at one time. They are also versatile, providing a proper foundation for crowns, bridges, or even full dentures. In fact, implant-supported dentures are becoming a popular option for patients experiencing the loss of teeth in the entire dental arch because they eliminate the need for dental adhesives while avoiding dental resorption. Patients have the ability to maintain their youthful appearance longer by avoiding shrunken bone around the jaw area, keeping their facial contours throughout their senior years. Additionally, because dental implants become solidified into the jawbone, they are a permanent and reliable solution for tooth loss.
How Implant-Supported Dentures Can Offer The Best Of Both Worlds
Patients who are faced with tooth loss have several options to consider unless they are dealing with the loss of an entire arch of teeth. Full dentures are often their only choice. Fortunately, patients can still combat dental resorption by using dental implants along with their full dentures. The dentist can place approximately four dental implants along the dental arch, strategically implanted to avoid sinus cavities and to maximize bone growth. Once osseointegration has occurred and the implants are firmly in place, the dentist can then restore the smile using a special full denture that connects with the abutments of the dental implants. Patients will be able to achieve full functionality with their implant-retained dentures by integrating implants into the process, while also reducing the risk of dental resorption.
Video 00:33 | Obtain better stability and retention of your dentures with dental implants. Watch Dr. Walton demonstrate how this works and a few of the benefits to having implants for dentures including the ability to eat steak, corn on the cob and apples.
How Can I Maintain My Youthful Appearance With Dental Implants?
Because dental resorption can occur with long-term denture use, it is essential that patients take the time to speak to their dentist about the advantages of using dental implants as a foundation for implant-retained dentures. Dental implants allow men and women to maintain a youthful appearance by keeping bone resorption from occurring and allowing one to keep their confidence and self-esteem even after tooth loss. Dental implants are the best choice for tooth replacement outside of bone maintenance because they offer improved functionality, taste, self-confidence, and optimal, stress-free convenience.
Who Is A Candidate For Dental Implants?
To ensure successful oral surgery, it is best that patients have sufficient bone already available for the implant to hold in place. If patients have been without a tooth replacement option for quite some time, or if they have been wearing traditional dentures for several months already, this bone may have deteriorated to the point that a dentist may not feel comfortable moving forward with oral surgery because of an insufficient foundation for the implant. This is when additional treatments such as bone grafting may be discussed to build up the bone of the jaw and allow the dentist to proceed with the implant procedure at a later time. Determining candidacy is often done during a physical evaluation and with x-rays to monitor the health of the jaw bone in its current state.
Are Dental Implants Worth It?
Though dental implants are costlier than other dental restorations including dental bridges, partial dentures, and traditional full dentures, they are a wonderful investment for many of our patients. Because of their longevity, patients are able to make an initial investment in their smile but reap the benefits of a permanent restoration that can maintain the jaw structure and eliminate the risk of unwanted bone resorption. This stable, strong, and durable restoration is often touted as the “gold standard” in tooth replacement.
Do Dental Implants Last Forever?
With proper care, men and women who have dental implants placed will be able to enjoy their dental implants for life. However, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t at risk of failure due to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, or “gum disease,” is a condition that can develop in the smile due to poor oral health and can impact the foundation of dental implants. Soft tissue loss, tooth loss, and bone loss are just some of the consequences that come with the development of periodontal disease. Bone loss can affect the foundation of a dental implant and cause it to become loose and fail. This may lead to expensive and time-consuming treatments to restore the smile back to its original health and replace the implants in the smile. Because of the risks associated with certain oral health conditions, it is essential that patients visit their dentist at least twice a year. This allows the dental team to provide a cleaning and evaluation, along with early diagnosis and intervention of any conditions that may put the dental implants at risk of failure.
What Happens If I Don’t Get Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a great option as a foundation for several restorations. If patients choose not to have dental implants put in place and instead consider alternative options such as traditional dentures, dental bridges, or partial dentures, they may deal with the changing jaw structure sooner rather than later. The process of dental resorption starts as soon as a tooth is lost, so with proper maintenance of the smile and the placement of dental implants, patients can combat these unwanted changes and keep their youthful jawline. As soon as patients experience the loss or extraction of a tooth, they need to work with a dental professional to learn about their options and make an educated decision.
What About Zirconia Bridges?
Another option that patients should consider is the increasing trend of obtaining a whole new smile with zirconia bridges. Zirconia is an up-and-coming material that is more commonly used in dentistry now than ever before. This material mimics the appearance of natural teeth and can provide a more beautiful smile than porcelain or acrylic alone. Patients can have a zirconia implant-retained bridge put in place to combat bone resorption and the “sunken in” appearance that often occurs over time with traditional denture use. Zirconia implants may be used in lieu of titanium implants as it is a more biocompatible solution for many patients. It is also preferred if patients have any allergies to metals such as titanium which may make zirconia dental implants a more desirable choice. Patients can enjoy a whole new smile, including both upper and lower arch restorations, using zirconia as opposed to other dental materials used in the past.