A surprising number of Americans — some 70% of the U.S. population — is thought to be missing at least one tooth, usually one of the molars in back. But if you can’t see the missing tooth, does it truly matter? Perhaps unexpectedly, the answer is: Yes, it does!
The real problem with tooth loss isn’t esthetics (although that’s certainly an important consideration) — it’s the bone loss that comes with it. The alveolar bone, which surrounds the teeth, requires regular stimulation in order to stay healthy. Without such stimulation — which comes from tiny stresses transmitted by the teeth themselves — the bone gradually melts away. Tooth loss can cause a 25% decrease in bone width in the first year alone, and more in subsequent years.
What happens when bone is lost? If enough teeth are lost, the ability to speak and chew can be impaired. The contours of the face and lips change, making an individual look noticeably older and gloomier. Eventually, the bite may effectively collapse — along with the self-confidence!
Fortunately, there is way to keep tooth loss from becoming bone loss: it’s the dental implant. Because the implant actually becomes fused to the living bone, it helps keep bone healthy and functional — and it looks great too! Learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”