When teeth or dental implants are present in the jaw, a stimulus is sent to the bone that keeps it from dissolving away. This is called the piezoelectric effect, and it is one of the most important reasons for restoring missing teeth with dental implants rather than some other method. It is especially important with people who are missing all their teeth, because they will eventually suffer facial collapse if implants are not placed.
If you’re missing all your teeth, placing eight dental implants in each jaw is enough to preserve your bone nicely. If that doesn’t fit your budget, we will discuss less costly options.
The x-ray below illustrates this effect dramatically. The patient here, a 68-year-old female, has no teeth left. Fifteen years ago, dental implants were placed in her lower front. Now, after fifteen years, there is practically no bone left in her upper arch, or in most of her lower arch. But there is a lot of bone present in the lower front, where implants have kept the bone stimulated and kept it from atrophy.
We don’t want to minimize the seriousness of the bone she has lost in the rest of her mouth, because she is at risk of jaw fracture and other problems, but we only want to point out that where the implants are located the bone atrophy has been prevented. She would have been best off to have had four more implants in her lower posterior and then eight also in her upper jaw.