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More Than Just Replacement Teeth: Can Dental Implants Restore a Patient's Former Facial Structure?

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The moment you lose a tooth, root included, you also begin to lose bone. This is a natural process that occurs in the area of the missing tooth. Without the daily stimulus provided by chewing forces, the body begins to absorb the bone that was once necessary to support the now-missing tooth. Within the first 12 months, the jawbone or alveolar ridge in the area of the extracted tooth will shrink by up to 50%. Many people are unaware of just how severe the effects of this bone loss are on their facial structure. By the time they realize, their facial structure has already suffered.

Your cheeks can become sunken and even begin to sag, and additional wrinkles form around the mouth, giving you the appearance of having aged years in just 12 months. Without the teeth to support your cheeks, they begin to sag. The same applies to your lips. If you are missing one or more teeth in the smile zone, your lips will lose their fullness and appear smaller than they were before. Fortunately, dental implants can restore your youth.

Dental Implants Replace Teeth and Bone

Although a partial or full denture can temporarily restore your facial shape whilst you are wearing it, it cannot replace lost bone. In fact, dentures speed up bone loss. In contrast, a dental implant not only offers a sturdy replacement tooth, but it also stimulates bone growth. Once the titanium rod is screwed into your jawbone, it takes approximately 3-6 months for the bone to heal and for osseointegration to take place. During this process, your jawbone will grow around the implant.

Once your permanent crown is placed, however, and you are able to chew on your new tooth, the bone around the implant will strengthen, holding the implant in place and improving your facial structure as a result.

Dermal Fillers Can Complement Dental Implants

If you didn't replace the tooth with an implant immediately, new wrinkles may have already formed around your mouth. Although your new dental implants will lift your face and restore its fullness, the wrinkles you gained will remain. However, those wrinkles can be treated with dermal fillers to leave you looking as youthful as you did before.

Dental implants can last for a lifetime as long as you practice excellent oral hygiene and see your dentist every 6 months for a check-up. However, in future, always choose to restore your natural teeth if possible rather than opt for extraction, as even dental implants aren't quite as good as the real thing.