It happens so slowly, that people don’t notice it. And since it takes ten to twenty years to occur, many dentists don’t explain it. But when you have all your teeth extracted and a complete removable denture placed, it is inevitable.

Process of facial collapse
Photograph courtesy of Dr. Carl Misch, Dental Implant Prosthetics

What happens is that when there are no teeth in the bone, the body interprets that as that you don’t need that bone any more, and it begins to slowly resorb the bone to use the minerals elsewhere in the body.

On the left are a series of models of a jawbone in various stages of facial collapse. At the top, all the teeth are present. In the second picture, the teeth have been removed, which causes a rapid loss of bone over a period of a few weeks. After that, the bone loss slows and it may take ten or twenty years to arrive at the stage of complete atrophy, pictured at the bottom.

When that occurs, the patient becomes a dental cripple, unable to wear a removable denture without the heavy use of messy adhesive pastes. The patient is unable to eat normally. This is why many elderly people keep their teeth in a drawer. Even brand new dentures simply don’t fit, can’t be made to fit, and even if they could, they are extremely uncomfortable.

So why haven’t dentists who do removable dentures talked more about this? Part of the reason may be that, until recently, there was no good answer. The facial collapse is inevitable, and until the advent of dental implants, there was no way to stop it. And part of the reason is that it progresses so slowly, it’s easy to pretend that it doesn’t occur. By the time it is a problem, it has been many years since the dentures were done and paid for, and the dentist may not even be practicing anymore.

facial collapse diagram
Diagram courtesy of Dr. Carl Misch, Dental Implant Prosthetics

The presence of dental implants prevents bone resorption in the vicinity of the implants. For those on tight budgets, just having two implants in an arch can make a great deal of difference. Bone resorption won’t occur around those implants, and they will anchor the denture to keep it in place. You will avoid becoming a dental cripple.

If your budget allows, more implants only make the denture that more stable. With enough dental implants, the entire process of bone resorption will be prevented.

If you have questions, we’ll be happy to see you for a consult. Visit our make an appointment page, or give us a call at (866) 598-1224. For a simple question about whether or not you are a candidate for complete dentures, or dental implants, or what your costs might be, we can see you for a complimentary consultation.