One of the reasons that sea oats are so precious is in how they help sand dunes to resist erosion. In addition to their beauty, we’ve learned that they prevent sand from giving way to wind and rain. This preserves the valuable barrier the dunes provide.
As we enjoy nature’s finest when it comes to the Carolina coastline, I’m reminded of the important role of tooth roots when it comes to protecting valuable “structures.”
Each tooth is much more than what can be seen above the gum line. Teeth are held by roots that are firmly embedded in the upper and lower jaw bones. While this foundation provides you with secure, stable biting and chewing ability, teeth are also a beneficial presence to the jaw bones that support them.
The jaw bones are living structures within our bodies. They are alive and rely on the interaction of teeth for stimulation. Without the presence of tooth roots, the jaw bone begins to shrink, or ‘resorb.’ This is similar to muscles that go unused and eventually atrophy (wither away).
For people who are missing one of more natural teeth, replacing them with dental implants helps to restore the much-needed stimulation to the bone. Their presence helps to halt the process of resorption and protect from further bone loss. This is one of the main reasons we recommend dental implants to replace missing teeth.
For some people who have worn a denture or partial denture for years, they are often unaware that the process of resorption has begun until their appliance moves or slips. This occurs because the bone underneath the gums is shrinking.
When a denture or partial is first made, it is created to fit the individual contours of a ‘ridge.’ This is the raised arch where natural tooth roots were once held. The arch is actually gum-covered bone, which begins declining in height and mass due to the resorption process.
Often, when an appliance first begins to move, it occurs while chewing rigorously, such as when eating a thick bagel or pork chop. As the bone continues to shrink, so does the height of the denture’s or partial’s foundation. It becomes flatter year after year.
In these instances, people typically begin using denture pastes or adhesives to help hold the appliances in place. As bone loss continues, they may not even realize that more and more frequent applications of these products are necessary.
Sooner or later, many people are candidates for a ‘reline’ to restore a more secure fit to the denture. In this process, the contours of the gum-colored based are reshaped to better fit the flattened arch that now exists. Eventually, however, relines are needed more and more frequently and each one seems to provide less and less help (and with shorter intervals each time).
Bone resorption can even be seen in a person’s facial structure. Ever heard of a “granny look?” This is when the chin becomes more pointed and the mouth appears to collapse into the face. Jowls form as muscles detach from facial bone structures and the face sags. Deep wrinkles develop around the mouth and the corners of the mouth tend to turn downward, even when smiling.
While the repercussions to appearance are certainly unwanted, the challenges associated with the compromised ability to bite and chew properly are worse. When eating becomes difficult (or overshadowed by the fear of embarrassment), people often move to a diet of soft foods that dissolve quickly in the mouth.
Unfortunately, these foods often lack the nutritional make-up for proper fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. And, many times bites are swallowed before being adequately chewed. This compromises the digestive system since digestion begins in the mouth as food is chewed.
Not only do denture wearers take more medications than those who have their natural teeth, they have more gastrointestinal problems. Over the years, renowned prosthodontist and founder of Misch Implant Institute Dr. Carl Misch has shared many findings that show how detrimental denture wear can be to one’s physiological and psychological health. www.deardoctor.com/articles/hidden-consequences-of-losing-teeth/page2.p
Obviously, it is important to replace missing teeth as well as the mimicking presence of their roots. By restoring stimulation to the bone, you help to preserve facial appearance as well as the ability to eat a healthy diet of foods you love. And, to enjoy your food in social settings, worry-free!
People are pleased to learn that dental implants are also affordable. While the upfront costs may seem higher than other tooth replacement options, dental implants will not break, decay, require root canals, or compromise the health of neighboring teeth. And, they are designed to last your lifetime! These days, there are not many things that provide that kind of value!
If dental fear is a factor, please call to schedule a no-charge consultation. We are proud that we have been able to help hundreds of once-fearful people overcome these fears and achieve the healthy, confident smile they always wanted. I’ll discuss relaxation options along with pacing your treatment so you are comfortable throughout your care.