When the Tooth is Gone: Dental Implants for that Natural Look
You brush. You floss. You see your dentist for regular check-ups and cleaning. But even with our best efforts, there are still times when the inevitable happens and the tooth – or teeth – must come out. That’s when we need to look at options for dental restoration – dental implants.
Humanity has probably been dealing with tooth loss ever since we evolved teeth. One of the best-known historical examples is George Washington, the first president of the USA. Washington suffered from dental problems all his life, and eventually had to have the last of his teeth extracted. Although legend has it that the dentures he used to replace his teeth were carved from wood, this isn’t true. Four sets of Washington’s false teeth exist today, and researchers examining them found that their components included materials as varied as gold, lead, hippopotamus ivory, and human and animal teeth. Washington’s false teeth were no joy: they were held in his mouth using springs and wires, causing discomfort, and they distorted his appearance.
Today’s dentures have greatly improved over the contraptions George Washington was stuck with, but they still follow the same basic design (although we’ve managed to do away with the springs and wires). Fortunately for today’s tooth-loss patients, however, modern dentistry has developed a new and better alternative called ‘implants’. Dental implants are a rising trend in reconstructive dentistry, allowing dentists to restore a natural appearance, functional and long-lasting teeth, and increased comfort to patients with missing teeth.
Dental Implants and Their Advantages:
Dental implants come in two parts – the implant proper, which is a prosthetic tooth root implanted in the jaw, and the replacement tooth that sits on top of the implanted root. Replacement teeth can be either permanent or removable. This process can replace anything from a single missing tooth, to the entire upper and lower complement of teeth. With the huge modern advances in materials and procedures, dentists and their patients are finding numerous advantages of going down the implant route:
- Implants, with their secure fit and natural appearance, give tooth-loss patients a beautiful smile and improved self-esteem.
- Because the implants become a part of your jawbone, they give you the secure feeling and appearance of natural teeth.
- Dental implants don’t shift or slip like dentures, so you’ll experience natural chewing and speech. No more mumbling or slurring your words – and you can eat your favorite foods without worry.
- Permanent beats removable: No more messy adhesives or looking for a glass of water to soak your dentures!
- Implants foster improved oral health. With implants, the neighboring teeth stay intact, instead of cutting them down as is done with bridges or partial dentures. Implants also make it easier to reach the neighboring teeth for cleaning and flossing.
Dental implants have a great track record for success. With proper care, dental implants can last a lifetime.
How Do I Get Dental Implants – Does It Hurt?
If you are considering dental implants, the first step is to get an evaluation. Your dentist and periodontist will collaborate with you as a team to develop and implement a treatment plan for your restoration work. The ideal dental implant patient will have healthy gums, sufficient bone structure to hold the inserted ‘root’, good general health and a commitment to following through with after-care. Red flags are raised for such conditions as uncontrolled chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease, heavy smoking or radiation therapy to the head/neck area. Presence of these conditions will require evaluation on an individual basis.
Once you’ve got the go-ahead, your restoration care team will develop your personal treatment plan. Each patient’s needs and outlook is different, but in general these steps apply:
The first step is to implant the replacement root within the jaw. A small post made of titanium is inserted into the root socket of the missing tooth. As your bone heals, it grows around the the post and fills in the socket, usually within 6-12 weeks. Yes, we know this sounds painful – but implant patients commonly report they’ve had less pain than with tooth extractions. The procedure is done using local anesthesia, and most patients find that over-the-counter pain medications give sufficient relief from any temporary discomfort that might follow.
Once the implanted root has healed, a connector post is added to support the replacement tooth. Your dentist will then take impressions and construct a model for the new teeth. These new teeth, called crowns, are are constructed similarly to other replacement teeth and are matched to the color of your existing teeth. The crowns are then attached to the supporting posts on the implants. Depending on the patient’s case, this may be done to replace a single tooth, or for arcs of missing teeth, which look like a bridge attached to the implant posts.
Throughout this process, you’ll need to return for follow-up appointments so your team can check that the healing is proceeding as expected, and that your new implants and crowns are functioning as intending. After that, keeping your implants working for you is a matter of care. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits are essential now – just like you did with your original teeth!
Is it worth it? Only you can decide that. Time and again dentists hear from implant patients who love the end result – brand new teeth that are securely attached, and look, feel and function like the ones nature gave you!
What You Should Know About Dental Implants
No matter how hard you try, there are going to be times when you may lose one or more teeth. Whether this occurs because of an injury or a lack of quality dental care, you will need to do something about replacing the lost tooth. Invariably, if you do not replace them your other teeth will wear faster than they should and can drift and move causing collapse of the bite. Aside from leading to the possibility of another tooth extraction, you may find that the alterations to chewing habits may lead to TMD (tempromandibular joint dysfunction) and other disorders. Today, you can choose between partial dentures and dental implants in order to regain a full set of teeth.
What are Dental Implants and how do they Work?
In a sense, dental implants are the closest fabricated substitutes for real teeth. Typically, your dentist will insert a post in the bone that will act similar to the roots of a natural tooth. Once the bone heals around the post, a dental crown will be placed over the protruding part. This crown will provide a chewing surface as well as protect your bones from shrinking after tooth loss. As with dentures, you can choose between a wide range of materials and colours for the crown.
Teeth Implants vs. Partial Dentures
Unlike dental implants, partial dentures do not make use of anchor posts for every tooth in the array. Partial dentures are usually removed and cleaned on a daily basis by the patient. They can also be adjusted by your dentist as your gums change over the years. On the other hand, dental implants will remain in your mouth . Usually, you will care for them in much the same way that you would natural teeth. As dental implants support each tooth to the jaw bone they are much more stable and patients can chew a lot better with them.
Why People Prefer Implants?
Even though dental implants are more expensive than partial dentures, many people prefer them for a number of reasons. This includes:
- eliminates the need for removing and cleaning partial dentures on a daily basis
- no need to be concerned about annoying and embarrassing slippages
- enhanced chewing capacity
- a more natural look and feel
- less problems with loss of mouth sensitivity
- little or no need to adapt speech and chewing habits to compensate for the size of the plate.
When you have several teeth missing, you should not let the situation go on to a point where it causes damage to other teeth. Aside from ruining the way you look, missing teeth will also have a negative impact on your long term dental health.
At Bite Dental Studios, we will be happy to help you choose the best tooth replacement option for both your short term and long term needs. Why should you be stuck with a partial plate you take out each night when they are becoming obsolete thanks to dental implants? Don’t you deserve the best and most useful tooth replacements available in modern times?