Let’s talk about a condition that affects many people even though it is both preventable and treatable. Facial collapse is a process that happens over the course of many years, and it begins with the loss of the natural teeth.
The Process of Facial Collapse
Many of us never think about it, but our teeth actually keep our jawbones strong and healthy. When we lose teeth, the roots go too, and our bodies react by absorbing — or resorbing, as the process is called — the the bone-building minerals from the part of the jawbone that supported those teeth. This happens because there is a need for those minerals elsewhere in the body. When we lose just one or two teeth, there is not so much of a problem, but when we lose all our teeth, facial collapse is bound to follow if we don’t prevent it.
You can see the gradual process of bone loss from the top jawbone on the left, where the teeth are still in place, through the stages of resorption, until the condition is very severe in the lower jawbone.
Over the course of just ten or twenty years, the jawbone becomes so thin that we are no longer able to support a denture. When this happens, the efficiency with which we chew is so compromised that we can only eat soft foods, and resulting nutritional deficiencies can lead to more serious problems.
The Visible Signs of Collapse
Facial collapse doesn’t just affect our chewing ability. If you look at the drawings to the right, you will see how healthy teeth and jawbones keep the contours of the face in proportion. In the upper drawings, the natural teeth are still present. In the lower drawings, the teeth have been missing for several years. The face has taken on the characteristic shrunken appearance we associate with aging. The bite has collapsed, deep folds have developed, the upper lip is sunken in, and the proportions of the entire face are affected.
Preventing and Treating Facial Collapse
The good news here is that facial collapse is both preventable and treatable. Of course, as with most dental conditions, it is much easier to prevent than to treat, but let’s take a look at both processes. Dental implants are tooth root forms, so if we replace a lost tooth with a dental implant, it continuously signals the body that we still need a strong jawbone. This is called the piezoelectric effect, and it keeps the bone in the jaw. If facial collapse has already occurred, it can be treated with bone grafts, with which we can build up the bone enough to support a dental implant.
Whether you suffer from bone loss or have just lost a tooth, we’re here to help. Call our office or click here to complete our online Request an Appointment form. We will help you find an appointment time that works for you.