Why is My Face Shrinking?

I’ve heard you can get smaller as you age, but lately, it seems like the lower half of my face is shrinking as well. I don’t know what’s going on. My dentures barely fit anymore. I’m afraid to go out in public because there’s no room for them and they slip out. Is this typical?

Avery

Dear Avery,

An illustration of the damage done by facial collapse using two pictures of a woman, one before and one after

Wearing Dentures for Too Long Causes Facial Collapse

What you’re suffering from is known as facial collapse. This occurs when you’ve been wearing dentures for a number of years. When you remove your teeth, your body realizes that you no longer have teeth roots in your jaw. Because our bodies are incredibly efficient (I mean what other pieces of equipment holds up for 80 years living mostly off burgers and fries?), it resorbs the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere, perceiving they’re no longer needed.

This is why your jaw is slowly shrinking. It’s also why your dentures no longer fit properly. Eventually, you will be unable to keep them in your mouth at all, leaving you a dental cripple stuck on a liquid diet. I’m concerned your dentist neither warned you about this nor recognized what was happening to you.

A Solution for Facial Collapse

There are two solutions for you. Both will include getting bone grafting done. This is where a surgeon builds back up the bone you’ve lost. After that, you can choose to have your dentures remade to fit the new structure. Just bear in mind, you’ll face the same issue of disintegration that your original dentures caused.

Another option is for you to replace your teeth with dental implants. This uses prosthetic tooth roots, usually made out of titanium, to help your body to know the bone is still necessary to hold in the new roots of your teeth. They have other benefits as well.

Advantages of Dental Implants

  • They are permanently secure. Once they’re placed, it’s like having healthy, natural teeth back. There’s no slipping. No sliding.
  • Your chewing capacity will increase dramatically.
  • They protect you from developing facial collapse.

The key is to communicate with your dentist and let him look and advise.

This blog is brought to you by Glenpool Dentist Dr. Noah Ryan.

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