Dental Implants and Facial Collapse

Many people don't realize that once all your teeth extracted, your jawbone senses that it isn't needed any more, and your body begins to dissolve away that bone in order to use the minerals elsewhere in your body. This jaw shrinkage is called Facial Collapse, and it takes about ten or twenty years to occur.

Please refer to the photo below:  In the left photo model, the teeth are all present. As time passes, the jaw changes as shown, until after about ten or twenty years it looks like the model to the right.

Refer to the Picture Below:  When a patient has a jawbone that looks like the one on the right model, their face looks shriveled, and they will find it very difficult to wear a conventional removable denture.  The problem is that when there is such a short ridge of bone left, the tongue and the cheeks will attach close to the crest of that bone, leaving no stable surface on which to rest the denture. Almost all the tissue is movable tissue, so the denture will move around with the tongue and cheeks. And, with little stable surface to rest the denture on, that surface has to bear all the pressure of the teeth, so it becomes sore, even painful to wear the denture bone, leaving.

However, dental implant surgery can install dental implants that will support the denture, which will restore comfort, function, facial profile, and lip support.

And when you wear dentures that aren't supported by dental implants, it will actually accelerate the bone loss. This is because of the pressure on the bone by the dentures.

The two previous illustrations show the effect of facial collapse on the patient's appearance. The distance between the nose and the mouth shrinks, as well as the distance between the mouth and the chin. The lips begin to pucker more because the upper and lower jaws are closer together. All of this causes the face to appear more shriveled, with deep creases. The face definitely ages rapidly. Remember, that it only takes about ten years for these changes to become serious.

What to do when facial collapse has already occurred:

Bone grafting - A surgeon can build up the bone you have lost using bone products or bone from your own hip.

Denture/Implant Hybrid restoration - An implant hybrid uses dental restorative materials to replace lost bone and gum tissue. This will increase the dimensions between your jaws and help fill out your face.

Precise placement of dental implants - When you don't have much bone left, it becomes even more important than usual to have the fixtures placed precisesly, using careful three-dimensional x-ray techniques (CAT scans) combined with careful analysis and planning.

Bottom Line is that, “Dental implants placed in your jawbone stimulate that bone the same way that teeth do, and prevent the progressive loss of bone.”  Below we have two photographs of actual patients, illustrating facial collapse. Notice the shortened distance between the nose and chin, the shriveled appearance of their faces, and see how the upper lip appears to be sunken in each case. If their mouths were properly restored, they would not only be able to eat better, but they would look much younger.


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