Tooth loss leads to bone loss and more costs

Image of jawbone loss

Tooth loss equals bone loss. And in the end, it’s the bone loss that can lead to higher treatment costs. There may be no easier way to state this fact. To help you understand why and how this happens requires a brief explanation.

If you have suffered tooth loss, you will be glad you came across this helpful information. Taking action sooner than later to replace your missing teeth may just save you money in the end. But first, let’s discuss how our jawbone is designed to keep its natural form and prevent the appearance of premature aging. This will help you appreciate the unique benefits of dental implants.

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  1. How bone maintains facial form, strength and volume
  2. Why should you expect tooth loss to cause bone loss?
  3. Common single tooth bone grafting procedures and their associated costs
  4. The cost of a bone graft and dental implant is less expensive in the long run
  5. Dental implants strengthen and preserve bone
dental implant compared to a natural tooth
dental implant compared to a natural tooth

How bone maintains facial form, strength and volume

Outside of osteoporosis — which this article does not intend to address — there is a simple rationale for bone loss, and it comes down to this: Most of our skeletal-bone structure requires stimulation to retain its form, strength and volume. When we don’t stimulate the bone, we begin to lose it.

For instance, we give stimulation to the bones in our legs and feet when we walk, jump or exercise. The bones in our arms and shoulders receive stimulation when we open and shut the car door each day, push a grocery cart full of food or lift weights, as some examples.

When it comes to your facial structure, the only way for your jawbone to receive its required daily stimulation is through the process of chewing food.

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Beneath your gums, anchored in your jawbone, are the roots of your teeth. When you bite an apple or carrot, or chew on a flavorful steak, the jawbone stimulation is transferred from the top of your teeth down through your tooth roots and into your jawbone.

When a natural tooth root is missing, a dental implant can take its place. The dental implant will stimulate the bone in a similar fashion (as seen in the tooth and implant illustration).

Why should you expect tooth loss to cause bone loss?

When you begin to lose your teeth, you become subject to jawbone loss. Bridgework, partial-dentures and complete removable dentures are not capable of offering jawbone stimulation in your missing teeth areas.

Without this stimulation, your bone and muscle structures weaken and begin to shrink. This bone loss in your facial structure can eventually cause your mouth and cheeks to sink. Wrinkles and facial collapse may follow. When your mouth and cheeks sink, it can make you look older, as demonstrated in this short video animation.

Depending on how much bone loss you’ve suffered over time, it may be necessary for a dentist to regenerate enough bone to support a dental implant before one can be placed. This is called a bone graft.

Common single tooth bone grafting procedures and their associated costs

There are two common types of bone grafting procedures:

Socket preservation bone graft

Regeneration bone graft

A socket preservation bone graft is performed immediately following a tooth extraction and is designed to fill the void of the removed tooth. This helps to maintain the required bone volume that is necessary for a dental implant.

This type of bone graft is designed to prevent rapid bone loss and is therefore considered to be more of a “preventative” bone graft. As such, it is the least expensive of the two bone grafts.

A regenerative bone graft is designed to “regrow” bone after it has shrunk in the area of a missing tooth. As you may imagine, it is a more involved process to regrow bone than it is to prevent the loss of bone. But unless adequate bone is reestablished in the area, a dental implant cannot be properly placed.

This procedure is more complexed and requires more technique and materials in order to achieve the best result. Therefore, regenerative bone grafting procedures are more expensive than socket preservation bone grafts.

Schedule a consultation with a Certified TeethXpress Provider to understand exactly what the costs are given your unique situation. You may also visit the Cost of Dental Implants page to discover multiple ways to make bone grafting and dental implants more affordable through payment plans.

But we’ve provided some fee ranges here to give you an idea on the associated costs of two common bone grafting procedures with respect to a single tooth:

Socket Preservation Bone Graft - Fee Range

Regenerative Bone Graft Fee Range

$500 - $900

$1,000 - $3,000

The cost of a bone graft and dental implant is less expensive in the long run

Wait! Before you assume that these fees are too expensive, let’s walk through a typical scenario. You’ll discover exactly how expensive it can be over time when your oral health begins to deteriorate, starting with the loss of a single tooth.

So your tooth is causing you excruciating pain. You see a dentist and she tells you that your tooth is decayed and cannot be saved. You agree to have the tooth pulled, but you decide against receiving a socket preservation bone graft. Furthermore, you decide against replacing your missing tooth with a dental implant. You believe it is too expensive.

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Fast-forward 10 years. Now you’re losing bone in the area due to a lack of bone stimulation. Other teeth in the area of your missing tooth have now shifted since there is an open space for a prolonged period of time. As the remaining teeth shift, they become weakened and start to decay.

One by one, you begin to lose more teeth. Ultimately, you’re forced into wearing a removable partial-denture or full-denture plate which causes larger areas of bone loss. After suffering the loss of several teeth and more bone loss, you may eventually opt for the TeethXpress full-mouth dental implant procedure to avoid wearing a lose denture.

Along the way, your dental health has deteriorated. As a consequence of not being able to chew certain foods with a loose denture, your healthy food choices become limited. All the while, you’ve incurred the cost of several dental procedures including pulling your teeth one by one.

Also, since a new denture must be made to fit your shrinking jawbone, you incur the cost of several sets of dentures and denture adhesive products over the years.

In hindsight, you realize your best and cheapest long-term method of replacing your missing tooth would have been with a bone graft and dental implant.

Fortunately, having read this article you don’t have to live out this scenario. You now know that the longer you wait to replace your missing tooth, the more problems this can cause for your remaining teeth and therefore higher treatment costs.

Dental implants strengthen and preserve bone

If you are missing a single tooth, it is highly recommended that you consider replacing it with a dental implant. If you are missing several teeth, it is worth speaking with a Certified TeethXpress Provider about dental implant options. A no-obligation consultation is usually the best place to start.

Visit the Find a Doctor page to locate an experienced implant dentist near you. Review the doctor’s profile and contact their office. If it seems like a good fit, schedule a consultation. Find out if dental implants are the best tooth replacement option for you. It may be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made to restore your oral health!

When I saw my new smile for the first time, I was speechless, and it felt like the last four years without my tooth didn’t even happen.

- Marcia, a TeethXpress patient

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