In my last post, I explained my priorities as a dentist when I’m examining a patient. Some people were surprised to learn that your actual teeth are lower on my priority list then maintaining the bone structure of your jaws. When most people think dentist they think teeth. Dentists need to do a better job explaining why maintaining your jaw bone is so important. I’m not here to scare you, I’m here to educate you. I still remember where I was the day I learned maintaining structure of your jaw bone was so critical to living a high quality life. The reason I still remember is because it made such an impact on me. As I’ve mentioned before, your jaw bones greatly determine your facial structure, they hold your teeth in place. And, if you don’t have teeth, the more bone you have the better foundation you’ll have to rebuild your teeth, whether it’s with implants or dentures. Did you know that bone needs a job to maintain itself? Like, when you have cast on your arm or your leg and then you have it removed and that body part is much skinner then it was before. That’s because you weren’t using all the muscles and bones while it was in the cast and they start to break down. Your teeth give your jaw bone a job. If you don’t have teeth your jaw bone starts to shrink. Also, periodontal disease, aka inflammation and bacteria break down your jaw bone and it is virtually impossible to get it back. Did you know that if you need implants or dentures the more jaw bone you have the better those will work? Here are some examples to show you the importance of maintaining your jaw bones.
This patient came to my office because they were having pain with their dentures when they eat. The teeth you see are this person’s denture teeth. The yellow line outlines their jaw bone. The red circles shows where their inferior alveolar nerve leaves their jaw bone to send nerves to their lips. The green line is there to indicated how much height of bone this person has. Now compare the yellow, red and green lines to the next person.
What a difference!!! See where your nerve is supposed to be?! The reason the person on the top was having pain when they ate was because they were literally chewing their denture on to their inferior alveolar nerve. OUCH!
Imagine trying to build something on foundation of the top jaw. There isn’t enough structure of bone to maintain implants, to hold teeth, or even hold dentures still enough to eat comfortably. This person would need to undergo major surgeries to regain enough bone to build anything solid in their mouth so they could chew their food correctly.
I’m not sharing this example to scare you, I’m sharing it to educate you on the importance of maintaining bone. There’s no need to start having anxiety about losing all your jaw bone, because it can be prevented. Next post I’ll explain how you can prevent bone loss.