Before we get into teeth extractions and the surprising way they can change the structure of your face we want to get something important out of the way:
Despite what you may think or others may say, your dental problems (if you have any) are not in any way “natural.”
Every single one of us should have had their teeth grow in properly with no alignment or spacing issues… just like every other mammalian species. The fact that this isn’t true – with malocclusion and the removal of wisdom teeth being as common as they are today – should give us a clue that there is something seriously wrong.
Because our goal is to help you look your best, we want people to know how teeth extractions or losing your teeth in general can drastically change the way you look besides the obvious of having less teeth.
Other people who may need teeth extractions whether because of a traumatic impact or periodontal disease will also find this information helpful. Losing your teeth changes your facial bone structure slowly over time no matter how you lost them. If anything, let it serve as a warning to start looking after them with better care.
So as we mentioned before, nowadays it isn’t all too uncommon getting problematic teeth removed. For the most part, this is a good thing. You should get problematic teeth removed but most people just don’t see why this is such a big deal beyond losing their tooth.
Maybe you’re thinking “Okay my teeth didn’t grow in properly, so what”? Besides, if it’s one of those in the back like your wisdom teeth and other people can’t see them anyways then what’s the big deal?
First you have to consider that the majority of ancient human skulls show that our ancestors had every single one of their wisdom teeth intact. Then consider that humans haven’t had the capabilities to remove teeth in the past the way we can today and that no other animal species deals with as many problems with their teeth as we do in the modern world today.
This isn’t a genetic issue. Do you really think having messed up teeth is something natural or does it suggest our current lifestyle habits are the farthest thing from it?
Anyways we’re not going to get into the why or how in this article. If you’re interested in this topic read up about oral posture to learn more.
How Teeth Extractions Change Your Bone Structure
Have you ever noticed how older people without any teeth have their lips sort of pushed back? How it seems like the lower half of their face has practically collapsed?
Our teeth are like the support structures in our mouth. The top and bottom rows of teeth rest on something called the “alveolar ridge”. After a tooth is lost, the surrounding gum area undergoes a remodeling process. This is called residual ridge resorption (RRR). The ridges that the teeth rest on slowly “melt” away basically removing a part of the structure which forms your jaw.
Residual ridge resorption happens most rapidly within the first year of extractions but it continues for a lifetime at a slower pace.
So what happens when these ridges and the supporting structure recede?
- The bottom half of your face collapses
- Prognathia (found in people with underbites) can increase which sticks your chin further out
- More wrinkles form around the mouth
- Lips become thinner in appearance
- The angle of your jawline changes
- The maxilla (upper jaw bone and one of the most important bones for attractiveness) becomes smaller
All of these different components which support your facial harmony become disrupted.
Here’s a video on the maxilla and how to bring it back up using your tongue:
Some other things to note:
- The rate at which RRR progresses varies.
- It doesn’t always happen.
The effects of residual ridge resorption is most commonly seen on older folks who have no teeth. But getting a couple or even a single tooth removed has the same effect just on a smaller scale. The gums having nothing to support will collapse. With no tooth, the alveolar ridge shrinks.
Remember Wolff’s Law? Bones in use will strengthen while bones not in use will atrophy. You don’t want the bones and soft tissue in your mouth to atrophy because it makes you look uglier – plain and simple.
Another issue is that the teeth that were surrounding the extracted tooth may rotate or drift towards the gap left open messing up their own positions even further! Now you have one problem multiplying into more problems.
Here’s another quick video summarizing RRR:
“So Should My Tooth/Teeth Get Removed Or What?”
If you’re guaranteed that your wisdom teeth for example, will cause you problems in the future or they already have then yes you should. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause recurrent infections and also damage the surrounding teeth causing pain in some cases. In these situations it’s smarter to just get rid of them.
But if you don’t have to, we strongly encourage you not to remove your wisdom teeth. We’re not trying to discourage the people who absolutely need to take them out but the people who are considering it and don’t really need to. Other teeth that have become infected and are too late to be saved should also be extracted.
What you should strongly consider if you’ve already had teeth removed is a replacement for the gaps left behind by those teeth. Some people choose not to get any replacements because of the price but if you can afford them they’re well worth it.
Among your options are a bridge which connects two teeth with an artificial tooth in between or a denture if multiple teeth are missing. Having something in between to cover those gaps is better than having nothing especially if your premolar teeth were extracted.
The best but also the most expensive replacement is a dental implant. Dental implants are basically state of the art when it comes to modern dentistry. An implant will ensure the alveolar ridge doesn’t “melt” away and it’s much more durable than a bridge (which usually lasts a few years vs. a lifetime).
If you can bare the costs you should strongly consider them as a replacement. A single tooth implant may range from a couple to several thousand dollars but it really depends on which tooth is being replaced and your insurance. Replacing front teeth will be more expensive than back teeth. Since they last the longest you can say they’re the most cost effective replacement.
Anyways, we hope you learned something today about how teeth extractions can have a negative impact on your appearance beyond the fact that you’ll be living with less teeth. You should ask a dentist about any aesthetic concerns before you get your teeth removed and plan a replacement for the tooth so residual ridge resorption doesn’t occur.
At the end of the day, make sure you’re looking after your teeth so you’ll never have to get one extracted in the first place. Take care of them today and they’ll take care of you tomorrow. Fair deal? We think so.