“I’m only missing a back tooth, you can’t even see it!”
The real problem with tooth loss isn’t just aesthetics, it’s the subsequent bone loss. The alveolar bone, which surrounds the teeth, requires regular stimulation (piezoelectric effect – tiny stresses transmitted via the tooth) in order to stay healthy. Without such stimulation the bone will gradually be lost. It is a process of the body to take bone from where it’s not ‘needed’ to where it is needed. Studies have proven that a lost tooth can result in a 25% decrease in bone width in the first year alone, and will continue to decrease in subsequent years.
As bone loses width and height, gum tissue also gradually decreases. Ability to chew and to speak can be impaired. The more teeth lost, the more function is lost.
Bite collapse can occur when only some of the back teeth, which support the height of the face, are missing. This can cause the front teeth to be more stressed, squashed or pushed forward. Severe bone loss will also result in uncomfortable dentures or the inability to wear one at all.
Fortunately, there is way to keep tooth loss from becoming bone loss: it’s the dental implant. Because the implant actually becomes fused to the living bone, it will continue to stimulate the bone and prevent loss.
Molars, in fact, are usually the first teeth to be lost. Dealing with that first missing molar will help maintain the integrity of the jaw and the structures they support.
Read here for an in-depth discussion on the benefits of dental implants and facial collapse.