The development and use of dental implants to replace missing teeth or teeth that need extraction has allowed an untold number of people to preserve the integrity of the surrounding teeth and jawbone, while maintaining their ability to chew and in many cases improving the look of their smile.
This has also allowed patients, in many cases, to avoid the awkward, uncomfortable and often dreaded use of dentures.
One of the many health benefits of dental implants is their ability to continue putting a natural pressure on the bone around and under the tooth root from the action of chewing. This pressure keeps the bone from deteriorating and wasting away.
Dentures do not provide this type of action, so the bone underneath actually wears away over time. The alveolar ridge (the jaw structure that juts up from the main jaw bone and forms the base of the dental arch) will deteriorate and shrink in height and volume. This is the reason you see that “collapsed” look, where the distance between the lower jaw and the nose is severely reduced, the mouth recedes inward on the face, and the lips start to look like a weak pencil line.
Even for the person who has lost enough teeth to need a large bridge or denture, the implants can be placed strategically to form a strong supporting base that allows the bridge to function securely or the denture to achieve a nearly full recovery of chewing strength as compared to natural and healthy teeth.. Thus even the dreaded denture can be made to function much more like normal teeth, and use of them made far more comfortable, effective and less erosive of the alveolar ridge due to the implant pressure.
Short of saving the tooth itself, properly placed implants, providing they can be received by the concerned patient, are the best overall option for preserving the function and integrity of the surrounding teeth and jawbone following the loss of teeth.