Dental implants have transformed the world of dentistry by offering a permanent solution for missing teeth. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots (titanium screws) which are placed into the jaw bone. These implants act as a stable foundation for the replacement tooth, ensuring a natural look and feel.
While they are primarily known for restoring functionality and aesthetics, a common question often remains: “Will dental implants change my face shape?”
There’s no short answer because many factors can influence your smile. If the implants are placed right after the tooth extraction, there will not be major changes to your smile.
On the other hand, if you have worn removable dentures for a long time or have delayed implant placement, your face shape and dental health will significantly improve with implant-supported dentures.
In this article, we will discuss the long-term consequences that you can expect after the loss of a tooth and how dental implants can maintain or improve the shape of your face. In the end, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether this type of dental restoration is the right choice for you.
Understanding the facial anatomy
First, it’s important to comprehend the primary components that contribute to our facial aesthetics and a healthy smile, including the bones, muscles, skin, and teeth.
The maxilla, or upper jawbone, forms the base of the upper face, housing the upper teeth and providing necessary support to the cheeks.
Meanwhile, the mandible, the lower jawbone, supports the lower teeth and helps to define the jawline.
Facial muscles are connected to the bones and allow us to smile, frown, and convey a myriad of expressions.
The muscles surrounding the mouth and jaw, such as the orbicularis oris and masseter, influence the form and function of our teeth. These muscles and the teeth work together to ensure proper chewing, and speech, and to enhance the overall aesthetic of our smile.
The skin responds to the movements of muscles and the contours of bones, reflecting the health and vitality of the structures beneath.
Teeth play a major role in maintaining the natural face shape. Each tooth has a specific place in the dental arch, and the alignment of these teeth influences the overall symmetry of the face. A full set of teeth supports the lips, preventing them from appearing sunken.
The arrangement and makeup of our teeth and jawbone are fundamental in shaping and preserving our facial features.
Will losing a tooth change my face’s structure?
Yes. The first year of tooth loss is when the majority of bone resorption, or deterioration of bone mass, happens. The more time passes, the more you will notice the overall appearance of your face changing.
Loss of bone density can lead to a sunken appearance in the affected area. It’s also likely that the remaining teeth will shift and fill the gap, causing misalignment and further changes to a person’s facial structure.
If you have had a tooth extraction but haven’t followed up with a dental implant treatment yet, these are the areas of your face where you will notice the most drastic physical changes take place:
- Reduced jawline definition: The loss of bone density in the jaw can result in a diminished and shorter jawline. The once-prominent angles and contours may soften, and the lower part of the face may appear less defined and smaller.
- Sunken cheeks: Jawbone loss can affect the support for the soft tissues of the cheeks. As a consequence, the cheeks may appear sunken or hollowed, contributing to an overall loss of facial volume. This can give the face a gaunt or tired appearance.
- Deepened nasolabial folds: Nasolabial folds, the “smile lines” that run from the sides of the nose to the corners of the mouth, may become more pronounced as a result of diminished bone support.
- Wrinkles and thinner lips: Tooth loss causes the facial muscles to weaken, specifically around the mouth and lips. Since there’s a lack of support, the lips will start folding in and the mouth will have more wrinkles.
- Changes in bite alignment: The loss of bone tissue can cause the adjacent teeth to shift and fill the gap, causing misalignment and an underbite. This, in turn, may contribute to alterations in the appearance of the lower face and cause pain when eating.
Individuals who wear traditional dentures or have not yet replaced their lost teeth may experience long-term dental issues, including accelerated bone loss, facial sagging, and the appearance of having aged rapidly, as a result of the lack of stimulation to the jawbone.
At Kootenai Dental Group in Coeur d’Alene, ID, our dental specialists have over 25 years of experience in implant dentistry. Dr. Delwyn Dick, DDS, and Dr. Miranda Anderson, DDS, will place the implant on the same day that the natural teeth are removed. This not only accelerates the recovery period of dental implant procedures but more importantly, ensures that the jaw bone does not recede during the healing phase.
Will dental implants change my natural smile?
No, dental implants will not change your smile if you haven’t experienced bone loss or gum disease (periodontal disease). It does, however, play an important role in preserving it while reversing facial collapse.
The implant mimics the natural tooth root both functionally and aesthetically. By integrating with the jawbone, the titanium post stimulates bone growth and prevents the loss of support that often accompanies missing teeth. This ensures the jaw remains stable thereby preventing facial atrophy.
Dental patients can anticipate the following long-term ramifications:
- Maintained strength and chewing capability of the jawbone
- Reinforcement of the cheek muscles, preventing sagging and premature wrinkles
- Restored facial structure and improved facial proportionality and symmetry
The benefits of dental implants go beyond enhancing your smile, but that is certainly a major one. Click here to learn more about how implants can benefit your oral health.
Will my face look different after dental implants?
Generally, no. Implants are not expected to drastically alter your facial appearance unless you have had missing teeth for a long time.
Instead, the primary goal of dental implants is to restore the functionality and aesthetics of your teeth. However, inevitably, they will contribute to maintaining your natural facial contours.
Will dental implants make me look younger?
While dental implants themselves may not have a direct impact on making you look younger, they can contribute to a more youthful appearance indirectly.
By addressing the consequences of tooth loss, they minimize the sunken look of your cheeks, brighten your smile, improve your speech, boost your self-esteem, and support your overall health and well-being.
While implants are not going to give you a smile makeover like dental veneers or other restorative dental treatments, they help maintain the natural contours of your face by preventing further bone loss. Inevitably, they will enhance your beautiful smile and have a positive impact on your overall look.
At Kootenai Dental Group in Coeur d’Alene, ID, your oral health is our priority. Call us at 208-762-8750 to schedule your free consultation with Dr. Delwyn Dick, DDS, and Dr. Miranda Anderson, DDS.