For some people, losing a tooth or two might not seem like a pressing matter. After all, once that tooth falls out, how much worse could it get? Unfortunately, this thought process prompts many people to wait much longer than they should to seek dental help, which could cause long-term problems. Here are two reasons you shouldn't wait to talk with your dentist about implants:
1: The Longer You Live Without Teeth, The Harder It Might Be To Get Implants
Sometimes, people decide to hold off on dental implants because of financial or scheduling concerns. Unfortunately, the longer you live without those teeth, the harder it might be to get implants later. After saving for your procedure or waiting for summer break to roll around, your dentist might inform you that your jaw isn't healthy enough for implants.
Your teeth are held in place by strong connective tissue and ligaments. As you chew and talk, this connective tissue is stimulated, which keeps your jawbone strong. Unfortunately, once teeth go missing, your jawbone can start to resorb, or melt away. In fact, your jaw can become so weakened that implants can't be anchored in place properly. Fortunately, your dentist might be able to repair the area by placing bone grafts. However, the bone grafting process can be complicated and time intensive.
Your dentist might need to harvest bone material from somewhere else on your body, like your hip or the backside of your jaw. Once grafts have been placed, the area needs time to heal before the implant can be placed. Although most implants heal after about 4 months, healing can take up to 7-9 months for some people.
Fortunately, dental implants can fend off future bone loss. After implants have been placed, the structure fuses to your existing jawbone, where they can stimulate the area—just like your original teeth. One of the best things about dental implants is that you won't have to worry about taking care of partial dentures or keeping track of a removable bridge. By brushing and flossing like you normally would, you can keep your implants healthy for many years to come.
2: Missing Teeth Can Alter Your Face Shape
Unfortunately, bone grafting and timetable changes aren't the only problems that could be caused by neglecting your missing teeth. Believe it or not, as your jaw is resorbed, it can actually alter your face shape and make you look like a different person.
Although most people assume that it could take years for your jaw to melt away, bone loss can happen fast. In fact, once a tooth is lost, 25% of the jawbone surrounding the area will be lost in the first year. After a few years, the jawbone will be 4 millimeters shorter than if you had a tooth present. If you have multiple missing teeth, this bone loss could make your jawline look much softer, creating a prematurely aged look. As your jawbone shrinks, the distance between your nose and chin will decrease, which could actually partially collapse the lower third of your face.
To preserve your looks, talk with your dentist about implants as soon as possible. In addition to keeping your jawbone from melting away and altering your face shape, those implants will blend right in with your existing teeth. By using a mold of your existing teeth, dental technicians can mill implants that fit the area perfectly. In fact, dental artists can even add cosmetic details like chips and stains so that your implant blends right in. You never know—your friends and family members might not even notice that you had dental work done.
By replacing missing teeth with implants right away, you can fend off bone loss and look like yourself. For more information, talk to an experienced dentist in your area.