When you lose a tooth and don't replace it with a dental implant, the bone in the area where the tooth was lost begins to disintegrate. Your jaw no longer needs that bone. Therefore, your body absorbs it and uses the minerals elsewhere. Although most severe in the first 12 months, this bone loss generally occurs over many years.
Unfortunately, dentures can also exacerbate this problem because they place pressure on the gums. What later happens then, is that the bone loss can be so severe that a patient can no longer wear their dentures. There simply isn't enough bone to support them. However, not only can a patient no longer wear their dentures, but they suffer what is called "facial collapse" whereby the face shrinks.
Thankfully, there is a way to treat this problem.
Your Jawbone Can be Rebuilt
Although the procedure is a difficult one, a skilled dentist can rebuild your jawbone using a technique referred to as bone grafting. This involves taking bone from somewhere else on your body, such as your hip, and grafting it onto your jawbone. The procedure sounds painful but it is no more painful than your average tooth extraction.
During the procedure, a dentist will place the new bone over the desired site and secure it with screws and plates. Once this has been done and the dentist has stitched the wound closed, the site will be left to heal for a few months. Later, with your newly restored jawbone, you need to decide how best to proceed.
New Dentures May Simply Restart the Cycle
If your plan involves purchasing a new set of dentures from your dentist, you should be aware that your jawbone will begin to shrink once more. Within a year or two then, you could be back to square one. You should consider getting dental implants instead.
You Could Opt for Dental Implants
Unlike dentures, dental implants tend to stimulate bone growth. After your dentist screws the titanium rods into your jawbone, the rods will begin to integrate with your bone. Within a few months, new bone will form around the implants, securing them and adding more height to your jawbone in the process.
You should carefully consider then, whether it would be worth your while to get a bone graft only to begin the bone loss cycle later by wearing a new denture. Dental implants will improve your appearance and confidence while giving you the ability to chew tough foods. Though they are more expensive, they are certainly worth the investment.
If your jawbone is shrinking to the extent that your dentures no longer fit, a bone graft followed by dental implants, will restore your smile and your appearance to its former glory.