Nobody wants to have to undergo a tooth extraction. But in some cases, an injury, structural issue, or recurring infection may make taking out a tooth necessary. However, if you or your child is facing down the possibility of a tooth extraction, you may be concerned about long-term damage. After all, many people have heard that having one or more teeth extracted can cause changes in your facial bone structure. And while this is a distinct possibility, the issue is a bit more complex than that.
What Can Happen to Your Facial Structure After Having Teeth Removed?
While you notice your teeth on a daily basis, you may not always think about the roots of your teeth. Your tooth roots extend far into the maxilla, or your upper jaw. The maxilla also includes parts of your nose and eye sockets.
When you have a tooth extracted, all roots are removed. Because the roots of your teeth are an integral part of your facial structure, changes in your face shape are possible with tooth extraction. While it won’t necessarily ruin your face, a change in face shape or structure may occur. next, we’ll look at how this change may happen.
Of course, if you find yourself in need of a tooth extraction, you may be concerned about how to avoid changes in face shape. There are steps you can take to prevent facial changes–or at least reduce the risk of them. We will discuss these in greater detail below.
Why Do Facial Changes Occur?
As we noted earlier, your teeth are an integral part of your facial structure. When a tooth is removed, the part of the jaw it rests on remodels and adjusts to the change. This remodeling is known as residual ridge resorption, and it refers to the gradual recession of the bone and gumline where the removed tooth originally was.
This may not sound like a major issue, but for some orthodontic patients, it becomes one. It’s important to realize that not every patient will experience a change in face shape after a tooth extraction, but it’s virtually impossible to know if you or your child will suffer facial changes until those changes happen. Different people have different degrees of residual ridge resorption, but for those who have a significant degree, the resorption of the bone around where the tooth used to end up changing the shape of the bones of the face.
If the removed tooth is an upper tooth, parts of the face may appear sunken in, resulting in asymmetry. If a lower tooth is removed, it may similarly result in asymmetry, and it also has the potential to exaggerate an underbite.
Facial changes due to tooth extraction will generally progress over time. The fact that facial changes are not immediate means that some patients may be lulled into a false sense of security, and they may, therefore, be surprised when they start to notice facial asymmetry within a few months. Generally speaking, though, the most rapid changes occur within the first year after the extraction. If there is no further intervention, changes in your facial bones may continue to progress more slowly for the rest of your life.
While this may seem to paint a bleak picture, it’s important to remember that, while tooth extractions may cause facial changes, the changes they cause are typically subtle. Plus, there are several post-extraction options to reduce your risks of facial changes. Many orthodontists will try to preserve your damaged or infected tooth if at all possible, but if extraction becomes necessary, there are steps you can take to preserve both your smile and your facial structure.
What Can You Do to Reduce the Risk of Changes in Your Face?
When you or your child has a tooth extracted, it’s a good idea to first talk to your orthodontist about post-extraction options. Here are some common ones:
- bone grafts
- dental implants
- dental bridges
In many cases, bone grafts are recommended after a tooth extraction. A bone graft involves placing bone material (often in the form of a translucent film) over the surgical site. This encourages your jaw to produce more bone material, and it, therefore, helps to reduce your risk of bone recession. Bone grafts are especially useful if your tooth has been removed due to chronic infections. Infections often result in a loss of bone in the jaw, and a graft helps to speed the replacement of that bone.
Dental implants are often the most recommended way to both replace a tooth and reduce your chances of developing facial asymmetry. For an implant, you receive not only a prosthetic tooth but also what is effectively a root replacement. This option may be somewhat expensive, but it typically lasts a lifetime.
Another option is the dental bridge. This is where a prosthetic tooth is attached to the adjoining teeth via dental crowns. This option tends to cost less than an implant, but the disadvantage is that it must be replaced approximately every 10 years.
Call Gorton and Schmohl Orthodontics Today
If you live in Larkspur, Calif., then you can schedule an appointment at Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics where we have three orthodontists to help you, including:
• Dr. Jasmine Gorton
• Dr. Bill Schmohl
• Dr. Jeff Nichelini
An orthodontist will have a consultation with you to discuss your treatment that might include:
• Braces – WildSmile brackets and wires in fun colors
• Damon Clear – clear brackets
• Retainers – to keep teeth in place after treatment
• Invisalign – customized plastic aligners
Our patients are treated using the Wow Smiles system that creates a unique smile for your face. Call us today at 415-459-8006 to schedule your first appointment.
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Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics
900 Larkspur Landing Circle, Suite 200 Larkspur, California 94939