Posts for tag: dental implants
Why is it important to replace missing teeth with restorations such as dental implants? You might be surprised to find that the damage caused by missing teeth is much greater than the simple gaps left in your smile.
As the years go by, teeth lost early in adulthood cause structural changes in a person's face. By age 45 changes in facial structure are already visible in the form of sunken cheeks. By 60, cheeks and lips lose their support, resulting in an aging look. This process continues and if the teeth are not replaced, much of the structural support of the person's face is lost.
These changes are caused by loss of bone. Although it may seem static, bone is actually living tissue that needs constant stimulation to maintain its form and density. With normal stimulation it is in a constant state of resorption (breaking down) and deposition (building up). Teeth provide the needed stimulation for the bone that surrounds them (called alveolar bone) as they meet each other during biting, chewing, and speech. When the stimulation continues, the bone continues to rebuild itself. Without this stimulation, the bone resorbs, does not build up again, and loses substance.
Without stimulation, alveolar bone loses width, height, and volume. Since your teeth and their surrounding bone support your chin, cheeks, and lips, this has a powerful effect on your appearance. It may also affect your ability to chew and to speak.
As alveolar bone diminishes, the next layer of bone also begins to resorb. This is the bone of the jaw itself. The lower part of the face begins to collapse, and the cheeks become hollow. This effect is especially noticeable for people with no teeth (edentulous).
Usually the first tooth to be lost, due to infection and decay, is a molar (back tooth). In the past, a missing single back tooth was frequently replaced by a fixed partial denture (FPD). A crown is provided for each of the two teeth on the sides of the gap, called abutment teeth, to support a false tooth in the middle. However, if they are not well cared for, the abutment teeth may be the next to succumb to decay.
Today the treatment of choice is an implant. A dental implant is a tooth-root replacement made of titanium, which fuses with the bone — making it very stable. Above the gums it is covered by a crown that looks like a natural tooth. The benefit of the implant is that it continues to provide stimulation to the alveolar bone, preventing bone loss.
Implants are also a good choice in the case of multiple missing teeth. They can be used to support bridges or false teeth (dentures). The results are an improved, younger appearance and better functionality.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about missing teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
Most people think of bone as rock-solid, but it's actually a living tissue that's constantly changing. This has significant implications for your oral health, general health, and appearance — if you are one of the 70% of Americans missing at least one tooth.
Throughout the day, your top and bottom teeth make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other. These small stresses are transmitted though the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth) that supports each tooth in its socket like a hammock. Think of it as a gentle push on the hammock, which causes the tooth to gently bump the underlying bone. The bone then builds up in the spot that's receiving stress to counteract it. This constant remodeling of bone is what allows bone to stay healthy and strong.
When a tooth is lost, the bone does not receive that gentle stress. It reacts by literally melting away. Sometimes this happens fairly quickly — in a matter of months. After the tooth-supporting bone is lost, the jawbone itself begins the same process of deterioration. This could eventually change the shape of the face, as the distance from nose to chin can decrease — even if only a few back teeth are missing. The results aren't pretty. But the good news is, there's a way to prevent all this.
Dental implants, which function as substitute tooth roots, actually save underlying bone when teeth are lost. They do this because they are made of titanium, which fuses to the bone in which it's set, stabilizing it. The implant is topped by a realistic-looking crown, which replaces the part of the missing tooth that was visible in the mouth. Together, they look and function just as your natural tooth did.
If you are missing a lot of teeth, implants can also be used to anchor bridges or even removable dentures while providing that same bone-saving benefit. And when you consider that they are so durable they should never need replacement, implants are a great investment.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
The best method for permanently replacing a missing tooth is with a dental implant. But did you know that there are two main techniques for placing implants? Implants can be placed either using a one stage or a two stage surgical technique, and as their names suggests, one is performed in one step while the other requires a second surgery.
With a one-stage procedure, a healing abutment is placed at the time of surgery. An abutment is a connector that attaches the implant from the bone into the mouth and which protrudes through the gum tissues. Following a 3 to 6 month healing period in which the implant fuses to the bone, a crown is then placed on the implant restoring the immediate appearance of a healthy, normal tooth. One-stage implant systems are generally used when the bone quality is good, guaranteeing good initial implant stability. They are also used when cosmetics is not a concern, such as the back areas of the mouth.
Under special conditions an implant can be placed and a crown placed on top of it at the same time. However, this is a very special circumstance requiring ideal conditions and surgical experience as well as crown fabrication know-how. It is generally safer and wiser not to subject an implant to biting forces until it is fully healed and integrated with the supporting bone.
A two-stage procedure is typically used for replacing teeth where there is no immediate need for a cosmetic solution and when more of a margin of safety is required. With this approach, the implant(s) are placed into the jawbone and the gum tissues cover them. They are not exposed to the mouth, but stay buried and left to heal. Once healed, a second surgery is performed to attach an abutment for securing the crown in place. This approach is used when there is poorer bone quality or quantity. This may make it necessary to regenerate bone around the implant at the time of its placement. There may also be other health considerations dictating that a two-stage approach may be indicated.
Depending on your individual situation and medical status, our implant team will determine which approach is best for you. To learn more about these two procedures, read the Dear Doctor article, “Staging Surgery In Implant Dentistry.” You are also welcome to contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
If you have missing teeth, dental implants are the state-of-the-art tooth replacement system. They act as substitutes for natural tooth roots, stabilizing the bone with which they fuse and become integrated with. This protects the remaining bone and prevents its further loss, the natural occurrence after the natural teeth are lost. Done correctly, implants can offer a long-term solution to the problem of missing teeth.
Key factors assuring dental implant success are having an experienced dental team consisting of:
- A surgeon (periodontist or oral surgeon, or dentist trained in surgical techniques to place the implants)
- A dental technician who will design the crowns (tooth portion of the implant)
- A restorative dentist to place the crowns
The whole team is necessary to plan the process as well as carry out their individual roles. They will ensure that there is enough bone and that it is in the right place prior to treatment to allow for proper implant position, and that the implant/s are correctly placed, which is necessary to allow for natural aesthetics and proper function.
Replacing missing teeth is imperative to maintaining normal oral health and function. Dental implants will help support the entire structure of the face. If back teeth are lost, the vertical height of the lower face and mouth can begin to collapse, negatively impacting biting function and causing creasing and cracking of the lips and facial skin, resulting in a prematurely aged look.
Implants differ from bridgework in several ways, making them the most favorable option for tooth replacement in many cases. For starters, they do not affect adjacent teeth, nor do they decay like teeth, and they are less susceptible to gum disease. In the long-term, implants are a more cost-effective solution based on the fact that once they are placed, their life expectancy is longer than bridgework.
If you have missing teeth that have negatively affected your appearance, self-confidence, and ability to chew, call us today to talk about the possibility of replacing them with dental implants. To learn more about the use and capabilities of dental implants, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants: Evaluating Your Options For Replacing Missing Teeth.”