Facial collapse occurs when your jawbone volume is so low that it no longer supports your facial muscles. What causes your jawbone to diminish? And how can facial collapse be treated or prevented?
What Causes Facial Collapse?
Your jawbone provides support for your teeth. When there are no teeth, your body senses that the bone is no longer needed and it will resorb the bone. When teeth are present, it stimulates the bone and prevents it from being resorbed. An edentulous bite (all teeth are missing) leaves the entire jawbone without stimulation. When that is the case, your jawbone will shrink and your facial muscles will sag. This detracts from your appearance and makes you look older prematurely.
Other Effects of Jawbone Shrinkage
Jawbone shrinkage affects more than your facial appearance. Thin jawbone has other disadvantages:
- Makes it difficult—if not impossible—to comfortably support a removable denture
- Is easily irritated and sore as your dentures rub on sharp ridges
- Is fragile and susceptible to breaking
How Can Facial Collapse Be Treated or Prevented?
Adequate jawbone volume prevents facial collapse. If all your teeth are missing, implant overdentures prevent resorption by stimulating the bone. What can you expect with implant overdentures?
- Implants—artificial tooth roots, usually made of titanium—are inserted in your jawbone.
- Implants stimulate the bone and prevent shrinkage and facial sagging.
- A full arch of denture teeth is attached to the implants. You’ll have a new smile and maintain your facial appearance.
- With teeth solidly anchored, you’ll be able to chew and speak normally
If you have dentures that rest on your gums, the pressure on the jawbone accelerates shrinkage. Implant overdentures relieve the pressure and stimulate the bone to prevent facial collapse. All-on-4® is a procedure that uses four implants to support a denture. Dr. Thomas will angle the two rear implants to increase contact with the bone and prevent the need for grafting. For details, read our All-on-4 dental implants page.
If you have significant jawbone loss, Dr. Thomas will determine if the bone needs to be built up with grafting to support your implants.
Request an appointment with Dr. Thomas to discuss your options for implant overdentures and preventing or treating facial collapse.