Dental implants are considered the most desirable treatment for missing teeth. An implant has the appearance of a natural tooth, without the maintenance and inconvenience of a bridge or dentures.
Most people think of implants as being purely cosmetic in their function. The truth is, replacing a lost tooth with a dental implant has significant health benefits as well. One of the most compelling reasons to invest in a dental implant is to help reduce bone loss that is related to a missing tooth.
The Life Cycle of Bone
Just as with all other substances in your body, bone has a natural life cycle. When bone becomes too old and brittle to function properly, it is dissolved back into the body through a process known as resorption.
New bone materials grow in place of the old, replenishing the supply of bone material and helping to maintain skeletal stability. The driving factor behind the growth of new bone material is stimulation.
Teeth and Stimulation
Your teeth play an integral role in providing the stimulation needed to trigger new bone growth in your jaw. Each time you bite down on something or chew your food, your teeth are subjected to extreme pressure. In fact, the average human bite has a strength of 162 pounds per square inch.
It is this pressure that helps to stimulate the jaw bone beneath your teeth. When you lose a tooth to injury or decay, the bone lying below the open space no longer receives proper stimulation. Old bone will continue to dissolve, but no new bone will replenish the lost material.
The Consequences of Bone Loss
Losing some jaw bone might not seem like a big deal, but bone loss can have some serious consequences. As bone mass shrinks, you may find yourself battling with recessive gums or experiencing speech and chewing difficulties.
A loss of bone in the jaw can also have an effect on your physical appearance. If the dissolved bone material is not replaced with new bone growth, the lower part of your face could shrink up as a result of the jaw bone becoming thinner.
All of these consequences can be avoided by having a dental professional complete an implant dental surgery that will provide your jaw bone with the stimulation needed to maintain bone mass.
A dental implant does more than keep the appearance of your smile intact. Investing in an implant to replace a missing tooth will help you reduce bone loss over time.