In this day and age, we occasionally see ourselves on screen, perhaps while “face timing” or in a zoom session. If you’re like me, you may be surprised at the lines, sags and spots that this reveals! Although the lighting and detail of most phone and computer reflections are rarely flattering, I’m always surprised to see my image that is older than how I envision myself to be.
As we age, however, there are things that go along with the process that are beyond appearance. Our skin dries, eyesight declines, hearing dulls and joints ache from years of wear and tear. However, there are steps we can take to soften the brunt of aging’s effects. Eating a healthy diet, getting ample exercise and sleep, and staying active socially are helpful ways to minimize or delay the challenges of aging.
Yet, over time, tooth loss can affect an adult no matter how fit and health-conscious. Tooth roots can crack, teeth can break, injuries an occur, and an overload of fillings can lead to the loss of natural teeth. Fortunately, the decline in averages for tooth loss in aging adults has improved over the years.
In 5-year comparisons of 1999-2004 to 2011-2016, the percentage of adults ages 65 and older who were missing all their teeth declined by more than 30 percent. (https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infographics/total-tooth-loss-decreased-adults-65-older.html).
Still, currently over 27 percent of adults 65 – 74 are missing all of their teeth and those in the 65-74 age group have an average of 19 remaining teeth. (https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/research/data-statistics/tooth-loss/seniors). Even by the age of 50, American adults have begun the decline, with average loss of 12 teeth.
One thing that baby boomers have shown, however, is a determined resistance to looking, feeling or acting “older”. Plastic surgery, cosmetic dentistry and surges in physical activities (indoors and outdoors) have helped, certainly. Another way to keep a healthy confidence has been in opting for dental implants to replace missing teeth.
Many “boomers” can remember their parents or grandparents having a denture. Seeing a grandparent’s denture soaking in a glass by the sink was not all that unusual for adults who are now 65 and over. Today, replacing natural teeth with dental implants makes more sense – for many reasons.
It’s no secret that dentures or partial dentures can cause many frustrations. Dentures can contribute to discomfort, reduced confidence, decreased ability to chew and enjoy foods, embarrassment and inconvenience. This can all be attributed to the declining mass of the jaw bone.
How do missing teeth lead to a decline in bone mass?
Natural teeth are designed to fit securely in a foundation of strong, study jaw bones. The dependability of biting and chewing comfortably occurs from the support of these bones.
The jaw bones are actually kept healthy by the presence of tooth roots. These roots provide stimulation to the bone as well as nourishment that feeds through the tooth’s interior. When tooth roots are missing from the upper or lower jaw, the bone begins to shrink, or resorb.
When a tooth is removed, so is the stimulation and nourishment to that area of the jaw bone. Without it, the bone begins to shrink in a process known as resorption. As bone mass declines, the height of the “ridge” or arch that supported the denture shrinks. And, resorption continues at a more rapid pace with each year and even accelerates from the pressure of wearing a denture.
A sign of bone loss is the change in how snugly a denture fits. The gum-colored base that holds the teeth in a denture is designed to fit the existing contours of the ridge. As it flattens, the fit is no longer as snug. Eating certain foods becomes more challenging. Laughing becomes overshadowed by the fear of embarrassing slips.
Another sign of resorption is how it can affect facial appearance. Over time, bone loss contributes to deep wrinkling around the mouth, with the corners of the mouth turning downward even in a smile. Jowls form as facial muscles detach from the declining bone mass. The mouth seems to sink into the face and a “witches chin” forms as the chin points and moves closer to the nose.
Dental Implants recreate the presence of tooth roots, halting bone loss and restoring the strength of your bite. There are many types of implants designed to accommodate individual needs. For those who have lost a great deal of bone depth, there are procedures that can rebuild the bone to a healthy depth.
There are also implant systems designed specifically for placement in minimal bone depth. For example, the All-On-4 dental implant uses a unique implant design with placement at strategic angles. This helps to distribute the load of biting and chewing sufficiently on only four implants.
In our Shelby Township dental office, we provide all phases of implant dentistry – from diagnosis to placement to the restoration of your final teeth. We utilize advanced imaging technology and special skills to provide each smile with an optimal look and feel.
Too, our dental office makes comfort a priority at every visit. In addition to a gentle touch, we offer oral sedation or IV sedation (twilight sleep). Sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry”, our patients appreciate our commitment to excellent care and optimal comfort.
Dental Implants are an excellent investment. They are designed to last your lifetime, restoring chewing comfort and smiling confidence all your life. Properly maintained, they are the closest thing to the look, feel and function of natural teeth.
To discuss the best options to replace missing teeth, call 586-739-2155 to schedule a free consultation or tap here to begin. You may also wish to view our brief videos on dental implants and advanced technology. I’ll walk you through our exceptional environment for your best smile. View these at: