It’s common among people in their forties or older—losing some or all of the teeth and having to decide which next step is best for their oral health. Most of the time, dentists wouldn’t recommend extraction for one tooth, much more removing the whole set. In most cases, dentists do the best they can to save any tooth from extraction. But when it comes to irreparable decay and other severe reasons, your dentist will likely recommend tooth removal. The next best steps will follow depending on your budget.
If the only choice is to remove all your teeth, you should be warned about the changes to your appearance, from sunken cheeks to shortened facial shape. If you have ever seen some people not wearing their dentures, then you know so well how lack of teeth can make one’s face seem collapsed.
In what way does it change your facial appearance?
How does lack of teeth lead to facial collapse? Think of it like some other parts of your body. If you have broken your legs and aren’t able to use them for a long time, then you might notice that your muscles start to shrink. The same goes for your mouth. When most or all of the teeth are removed, your jawbone becomes weaker, and so, it shrinks, but this happens after some time.
Your jawbone can only support your facial structure with the help of your teeth. But the roots of your teeth don’t just steady your jawbone. They play another huge role, too, particularly supplying nutrients to the jawbone. Without the teeth roots to supply nutrients, the jawbone then collapses.
Without teeth, your facial shape, specifically the jawline, will change. Your mouth starts shifting, leading to a sagged jawline, collapsed lower half, lengthened upper lips, sunken cheeks, and shortened face overall. This gives you an aged look.
Is facial collapse a serious matter?
It turns out, facial collapse isn’t just all about losing your beautifully defined jawlines or other features and looking more aged as you are. It should be treated as a serious medical concern. This is because even when you have dentures, you’re still at risk of facial collapse, especially if yours are ill-fitting. Wearing regular dentures may not stop facial collapse since the changes will still happen when the body doesn’t see any need for a jaw at all. This is after 10 to 20 years of having missing teeth.
Make sure to act on it immediately. Talk to a dentist about the best solution that’s within your budget. With a weak jawbone comes the risk of fractured jaw and loss of some teeth that remain. If you have a weak jawbone, your dentist may recommend a bone graft. And dentures may be your sole option, not dental bridges or implants.
How do you avoid facial collapse when wearing dentures?
However, there are ways you can minimize facial sinking even if you wear regular dentures. This is so if you haven’t yet had a weak jawbone. Here are ways you can slow the effects of facial collapse:
Improve denture fit
Your dentures must fit perfectly. When you try to bite or chew hard food, you irritate your gums and bones. And with such excessive irritation but without teeth, your bones weaken much quickly. You need dentures that are properly measured by bite and not just perfect for the size of your mouth.
Most people with ill-fitting dentures tend to avoid many kinds of food and resort to liquid, smoother, or softer equivalents. But this can be a recipe for malnutrition, so avoid doing this. Your bone needs nutrition for it to heal and maintain. With properly fitted dentures, you can better eat varied foods so you can get better nutrition. Make sure that your diet includes a healthy variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and more.
Remove your dentures
It seems counterproductive to remove your dentures so that you can avoid jawbone loss. After all, aren’t they there to at least aid the jaw? You need to wear your dentures less, especially if yours are poorly fitted, as they only speed the bone loss.
Consider dental implants
So far, one of the most effective solutions to teeth loss is dental implants. Since everything in your mouth is interconnected, the best option is to connect artificial tooth roots to the jawbone; hence, stimulating bone growth and minimizing its loss. Bone grafts may be required to ensure that the implants are properly supported.
And, as always, prevention is better than care. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss, a weak jawbone, and facial collapse. Make sure you care for your mouth and get regular checkups.