The Importance of Teeth for Jaw Bone Health

When one or more teeth are missing, it can lead to loss of bone in the jaw loss at the site of the missing tooth. This loss of jawbone can result in additional problems including loss of support for lips and cheeks, less effective chewing, and accelerated loss of additional teeth.  This sequence produces a prematurely aged facial appearance, pain, problems with your remaining teeth, and even the inability to speak and eat normally, which affects overall health.

The phrase “Use it or lose it” applies to more than maintaining muscles through exercise; bone tissue is maintained by use and lost through disuse. Natural teeth are embedded in the jawbone, and stimulate the jawbone through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are missing, the alveolar bone, or the portion of the jawbone that anchors the teeth in the mouth, no longer receives the necessary stimulation, and begins to break down, or resorb. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jawbone, so it deteriorates and goes away.  In fact, removable full and partial dentures and dental bridgework actually accelerate the loss of bone!

Potential Consequences of Tooth and Jawbone Loss

  • Problems with remaining teeth, including, misalignment, drifting, loosening and loss
  • Collapsed facial profile
  • Limited lip support
  • Skin wrinkling around the mouth
  • Distortion of other facial features
  • Jaw (temporomandibular joint TMJ) pain, facial pain, and headaches
  • Difficulty speaking and communicating
  • Inadequate nutrition as a result of the inability to chew properly and painlessly
  • Sinus expansion