Why Dental Implants?
Tooth loss, whether you lose just one tooth or you lose all of them, is a serious event that significantly impacts your quality of life. There are numerous causes of tooth loss, and they all have similar effects. Traditionally missing teeth have been replaced with either a bridge, a partial denture or a full denture. While these options are still in use today, and technological developments have greatly improved them, they still have major drawbacks. Today, there is an alternative, dental implants. At Kelly Smile Dentistry, we offer dental implants as a treatment to replace your missing teeth, restoring your mouth, its functions, and its aesthetics, giving you back your life.
Causes of Tooth Loss
There are several different issues that can lead you to lose your teeth. One of the most common causes is periodontal disease. More commonly known as gum disease, periodontal disease is an oral health issue that affects your gums, followed by your periodontal ligaments and your jawbone. It begins when oral bacteria and plaque build up and irritate the gum tissue. In response to the irritation, an inflammatory response is triggered. This early stage of periodontal disease, known as gingivitis, is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed when you brush or floss.
Unfortunately, this stage often goes unnoticed or ignored, and therefore untreated. As a result, the condition worsens. Swollen gum tissue pulls away from the necks of the teeth, creating gaps, or pockets, and bacteria fall inside. From the pockets, bacteria continue attacking the gum tissue and begin attacking periodontal ligaments and your jawbone. The longer the periodontal disease goes untreated, the worse it becomes. The gum line begins to recede, exposing tooth roots, and the teeth become loose, eventually falling out.
Effects of Tooth Loss
Tooth loss affects every aspect of your life, no matter if you have only lost a single tooth, or you have lost several. One of the most obvious effects of tooth loss, depending upon the location, is the impact that it has on your smile. Missing teeth leave gaps in your smile, which can often lead to a loss of confidence.
Tooth loss affects the functions of your mouth. It becomes difficult to bite and chew food. Chewing is the first stage in the digestive process. Your teeth break down the foods you eat, making essential nutrients easier for the body to absorb later in the digestive tract. When you are unable to thoroughly chew your food, it does not get completely broken down. As a result, the body has a harder time absorbing the nutrients, which can lead to malnutrition.
Another important function of your teeth is their role in speech. They control the flow of air when you talk, which enables you to form certain sounds and words. Tooth loss leads to a loss in this control and the development of a lisp. The more teeth you lose, the more difficult it becomes for others to understand you.
There are hidden effects of tooth loss as well. Even the loss of just one tooth leads to bone loss in the jaw. The teeth stimulate the jawbone, which sends a message to the body. In response, the body sends essential nutrients to the jaw through the bloodstream. Losing teeth results in less bone stimulation, and therefore fewer nutrients. The bone begins to resorb and grow weak. As it does, it can begin to change shape. Your remaining teeth can shift out of their natural alignment, throwing off your bite. This results in a whole series of other issues, including uneven wear on the teeth and severe jaw pain. Bone loss can also change the shape and appearance of your face. Your lips sink in, and the cheeks become hollow. Facial skin begins to sag and wrinkles form. All of these effects cause you to age significantly beyond your years.
What Are Dental Implants?
Traditionally, missing teeth have been replaced with either a bridge or some form of the denture. While these are still in use today, now you have a new option. Dental implants are a revolutionary treatment for replacing missing teeth and restoring the functions, health, and aesthetics to your mouth. They consist of three components. The implant itself is a small titanium rod that is surgically implanted into the jawbone. The jawbone fuses to the titanium in a process known as osseointegration, turning the implants into stable roots. Abutments, or connectors, are placed at the exposed ends of the implants. Finally, crowns are placed at the very top, replacing the visible sections of your missing teeth. They function just like your natural teeth, enabling you to bite, chew and speak. Crowns are typically made from ceramic, providing a natural appearance and restoring your smile. Ceramic can not only perfectly match the color of your natural teeth, but it also reflects light in a similar manner to enamel. When set in place, it is impossible to tell the difference between the implants and your actual teeth.
A Brief History of Dental Implants
Dental implants as we know them today are a fairly recent development, having been discovered in the 1950s. However, thanks to the research of archaeologists, we now know that implants in general as a treatment for tooth loss have been around for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of implants dates back to 600 AD. The mandible of a young woman was found with carved stone and bits of seashells in her jaw, where a tooth should have been. Interestingly, her bone had begun to fuse with the implant, showing that it had been in place for a while. This is not the only instance of ancient implants. Egyptians have been found with gold wire in the jaw, Middle Eastern skulls have been found with ivory, and a Roman soldier has been found with a piece of iron.
Modern implants were an accidental discovery thanks to the work of Swedish orthopedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånenmark in the early 1950s. He was studying bone healing and regeneration and had implanted a titanium cylinder into the femur of a rabbit. When he went to remove it, he found that the bone had fused to it. This discovery led to further research and the eventual development of implants for replacing missing teeth. The first successful implantation of a dental implant occurred in 1965. He later commercialized implants in 1978. Since then, research and development have continued, and discoveries to improve implants are continually being made.
Implants for All Needs
Dental implants are a versatile treatment for tooth loss. They can be used in numerous different instances and can be customized to meet a variety of needs. To do this, there are several different types of implants.
Dental Implant Procedure
Dental implants are placed using a surgical procedure. Before beginning surgery, a local anesthetic is administered, which helps to avoid feeling any pain. Sedation is also used, which enables you to remain completely calm and relaxed while your implants are placed. The implantation process starts with small incisions in the gums, exposing the jawbone underneath. A drill is used to create holes in the bone. The titanium rods are placed into the holes, and the gums are sutured closed around them, leaving a portion of the implant exposed above the tissue. Finally, temporary teeth are set in place, giving you use of your mouth while you heal.
Depending upon how many implants are placed, among other factors, healing can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. During this time, it is important that you rest and take of yourself to ensure a smooth recovery. You also attend regular follow up visits, during which your jaw is inspected to ensure the bone is fusing properly.
Once you have fully healed, the process of getting your permanent crowns begins. First, the temporary teeth are removed, and the abutments are placed. Impressions are taken of the mouth. These impressions are sent to a dental lab, where the crowns are designed and fabricated. The temporary teeth are set back in place until the crowns are ready. When the permanent crowns have been sent back, the temporary teeth are removed and the final restorations are screwed into place. You leave the office with a set of fully functional, completely natural looking smile.
Why Get Dental Implants?
There are several reasons to get dental implants.
Whether you are missing one tooth or many teeth, replacing those lost teeth, and doing so as soon as possible, is essential. Dental implants not only restore the functions of your mouth and your smile, but they also work to protect the integrity of your jawbone and restore your quality of life. Call Kelly Smile Dentistry, today to learn more about dental implants and schedule your consultation to find out if they are the right solution for you at (760) 242-2338.