The term resorption describes the process of shrinking bone mass. This occurs after a person’s natural teeth are extracted. This phenomenon is very important to understand when constructing dentures.
Bone resorption leaves less support to build dentures on. This can leave dentures loose and unstable. Bone resorption can also affect facial features. Often giving denture wearers a “sunken in” look. Women often report seeing less of their lips due to this bone loss.
So what exactly is happening?
Let’s pretend the bone that holds your natural teeth in place, is like a muscle. If you exercise a muscle with weights that muscle will get bigger. If you stop exercising the muscle will shrink. Your natural teeth are like weights exercising the underlying bone. When the teeth are extracted, it is as if the bone is no longer being exercised, and it begins to shrink. Immediately after extractions bone loss occurs at a rapid rate for the first 6 -12 months. Even a year after the removal of your teeth bone will continue to shrink at a moderate rate for the rest of your life.
It is for this reason that dentures need to be relined. Usually every 2-5 years dentures should be relined. This allows the denture to be modified to make up for the shrinking that has occurred in the bone. In cases where the bone resorption is severe, new dentures may be necessary...
However bone resorption does not have to happen. The use of dental implants can not only help support your dentures, they also act like and artificial tooth root. Thus stimulating and maintaining the bone.