Your teeth don’t just help you eat; they play a vital role in your jawbone health. Healthy, frequently-used teeth lead to a strong jaw; bone tissue stays healthy through use, just like muscle tissue stays healthy through exercise. Your jaw does not experience a great deal of exercise on its own. Instead, your jawbone health depends on your teeth, as they are anchored to the bone and serve to strengthen and exercise your jawbone when you bite or chew.
If you lose one or more teeth, your jawbone health will suffer dramatically. If the alveolar bone (the part of the jaw that connects your teeth to the rest of your jaw) stops receiving stimulation and exercise from a tooth, over time it will break down and be reabsorbed. This can occur when you completely stop using a bone or muscle; your body thinks that the bone or muscle in question is no longer needed, and breaks it down. Think of it like muscle atrophy after a long hospital stay. It is important that your teeth be strong, healthy, and see daily use and care to avoid this process.
Alveolar bone deterioration can lead to many other problems with your overall health and appearance. Some of the long list of problems associated with sub-par jawbone health include pain, problems with your other teeth (including drifting, loosening, and even tooth loss), difficulty chewing, sinus expansion, headaches, facial pain and temporomandibular joint TMJ. The breakdown of the alveolar bone can also lead to noticeable cosmetic problems in the face, such as wrinkled skin around the mouth, limited lip support, distortion in your other facial features, and a collapsed facial profile.
If left untreated, your missing teeth can eventually lead to trouble with eating and chewing, poor nutrition (caused by the inability to chew painlessly), and can even affect your ability to communicate normally. It is of the utmost importance that the jawbone be maintained in a healthy state to avoid these problems. Simple unanchored dentures will not provide the necessary stimulation to your jawbone, and should be avoided when possible, as they will not prevent the breakdown of the alveolar bone.
Take good care of your teeth; they’ll maintain your jawbone health, keep up your appearance, and help you live the healthy, happy life you want.