Why Teeth Are Important for Jaw Bone Health

If you are missing a tooth or multiple teeth, it can lead to jawbone loss at the site of the gap, which is known as disuse atrophy. The loss of jawbone can develop into additional problems, both with your appearance and your overall health. You may experience pain, problems with your remaining teeth, and altered facial appearance, and eventually even the inability to speak and eat normally.

In the same way that you maintain your muscles through exercise, you maintain your bone support by using it. Your natural teeth are embedded in the jawbone, and stimulate the jawbone through activities like chewing and biting. When you are missing teeth, the alveolar bone, or the portion of the jawbone that anchors the teeth in the mouth, no longer receives the necessary stimulation and begins to break down, or resorb. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jawbone, so it deteriorates.

Potential Consequences of Tooth and Jawbone Loss

  • Problems with remaining teeth, including, misalignment, drifting, loosening, and loss
  • Collapsed facial profile
  • Limited lip support
  • Skin wrinkling around the mouth
  • Distortion of other facial features
  • Jaw (temporomandibular joint [TMJ]) pain, facial pain, and headaches
  • Difficulty speaking and communicating
  • Inadequate nutrition as a result of the inability to chew properly and painlessly
  • Sinus expansion