What Happens When I Lose a Tooth and Do Not Replace It?

What Happens When I Lose a Tooth and Do Not Replace It?

As insidious and stealthy as bone loss is, it pales in comparison to when a tooth, or teeth, are lost. When a tooth is extracted, initially there is an empty socket. The bone will heal, but unfortunately, it heals by collapsing inward upon itself. That means that within a very few months after extraction, several bad things begin to happen.

What Happens When I Lose a Tooth and Do Not Replace It
First, the bone volume that used to hold that tooth, shrinks, and it will continue to shrink forever, unless a dental implant is placed into that site, at which time the shrinkage from tooth extraction stops, because the bone “thinks” the tooth is back.
Second, teeth on either side of the gap will begin drifting out of normal alignment and begin tipping into the gap.
Third, the tooth in the opposite jaw, which used to bite onto the tooth that was removed, will “miss” that partner and begin to drop down trying to find its lost partner to re-establish the bite.

This can be avoided if a dental implant replaces the lost tooth as it will reestablish the biting pair of teeth.


Can dentures stop bone shrinkage?

If offered removable tooth replacements, such as partial or full dentures, bone shrinkage will continue whether you wear the dentures or not. Bridging-over the gap, by crowning two natural teeth, and soldering a fake one in between, also will not prevent shrinkage. Only the dental implant is capable of stopping shrinkage.


How long can I wait once bone loss begins?

If the bone loss, sometimes referred to as “disuse atrophy,” continues long enough, there eventually will not be enough bone to fit a useful sized dental implant into the missing tooth site. In this instance, some will place a “mini-implant” into the shrunken site. All one needs to do is look at the root structure that formaly was there to withstand the biting load the tooth had to carry, and compare it to the scrawny-sized mini-implant, and one would not have to be an engineer to understand that the mini-implants are not bio-mechanically a good replacement.

Alternatively, if too much bone has shrunken to place a full-sized, full-strength dental implant, there still is hope. In such instances, additional and more advanced techniques can allow for implant placement.


The Solution

The best advice about bone loss is this: prevent it while you can, and once a tooth, or teeth, are lost, don’t wait till the normal shrinkage has deteriorated too far, replace missing teeth with full-sized, full strength dental implants to reestablish a healthy chewing, biting, capability.

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