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.

a patient with dental implants in Victorville, CA
Other causes of tooth loss include such things as:
•  Facial trauma. Facial trauma is the result of injuries to the facial and oral regions. It often occurs as a result of car accidents, falls, or a sports injury. Teeth may either fall out on their own, or they may need to be extracted as a result of severe damage.
•  Severe tooth decay.
•  Smoking.
•  Bruxism, or the clenching and grinding of your teeth.

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.
•  Single tooth implants. A single tooth implant uses one titanium rod to support a single ceramic crown, replacing one missing tooth in any area of the mouth. These implants may also be used if you are missing several single missing teeth in different areas.
•  Multiple tooth implants. Known as an implant supported bridge, this implant replaces two or more missing teeth in the same area of the mouth. One or more implants are used to support your new teeth.
•  Implant supported dentures. An implant supported denture takes the place of a traditional full denture, replacing a full arch of teeth. This treatment uses 6 to 8 implants for support.
•  All-on-4 treatment concept. Bone loss is a natural occurrence after tooth loss. However, to support implants, you need to have sufficient bone mass in the jaw. Without it, the risk of implant failure increases. If you are missing all of the teeth in a single arch, and do not have the bone mass to support, the 6 to 8 implants required for an implant supported a denture, the All-on-4 treatment concept. This treatment involves using only four implants, which are strategically implanted to maximize contact with your existing bone, to support your new teeth. In doing so, the treatment helps to avoid the need for a bone graft, and helps you to avoid the need for a traditional denture.

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.
•  They look, and function, just like your natural teeth. Successful osseointegration turns the implants into strong, stable supports that hold your teeth securely in place to perform a variety of essential functions.
•  You can eat all of your favorite foods. A common concern about dentures is that they can come loose, or even fall out while you are eating. Not only can this result in an embarrassing situation, but it can also lead to discomfort. Implants hold your teeth firmly in place, allowing you to enjoy all of the foods you used to enjoy eating.
•  They provide a permanent solution. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that stops the bone loss that follows tooth loss. No other replacement option can do this. Because of this, the bone continues to grow weak and change shape, resulting in the need for periodic replacement. The initial investment of dental implants may be scary, but they do not need to be replaced. They are designed to last a lifetime.
•  They keep your jawbone healthy. Along with enabling you to eat and speak, the teeth are also responsible for the health of your jawbone. Chewing stimulates the bone, and the body sends essential nutrients in response. Without teeth, the stimulation lessens, and fewer nutrients are sent. This results in bone resorption. The titanium rods implanted into your jaw mimic the roots of your teeth and stimulate your jaw in a similar fashion. In response, the body begins sending more nutrients again.
•  The shape of your jaw, and your face, is maintained. When the bone resorbs, it grows weak. Over time, the jaw begins to change shape. Not only does this affect your mouth, but it also affects your facial appearance. Because dental implants stimulate the jawbone like your natural teeth, the bone remains strong and healthy. This results in the maintenance of your jaw and facial shape.
•  There is no need to alter healthy teeth. A dental bridge, meant to replace one to three missing teeth, relies on adjacent healthy teeth for support. The bridge consists of two crowns, one on each side of the replacement teeth. These crowns anchor the bridge into place, holding it securely in place. To place the bridge, the adjacent healthy teeth need to be prepared. This involves removing enamel from perfectly healthy teeth, reducing them in size to make room for the restoration. With dental implants, there is no need to alter healthy teeth. Your adjacent teeth remain completely intact and unaltered.
•  You are provided with greater comfort. A common complaint about dentures is that they are uncomfortable. They rest directly on your gums, a structure that was never meant to support the pressures that dentures place on them. Dentures can also rub against the sensitive tissue, causing painful sores. Dental implants, on the other hand, are far more comfortable. The titanium implants inserted into the jaw, and the bone itself, provide the support for implant crowns, meaning there is no pressure on the gums. They are also secure and do not rub the tissue.
•  They are easy to care for. Another issue with dentures is that they require a significant amount of daily maintenance. Every night they must be removed, brushed with a denture paste, and soaked overnight. You then need to brush your healthy teeth and gums before going to bed. This routine can get rather tedious. Dental implants can be cared for just like your natural teeth, and they do not need to be removed to do so.
•  Your confidence is restored. Dentures can often lead to embarrassing situations. When they do not fit perfectly, and sometimes even if they do, they can slip out of place, or fall out completely. This can make many denture wearers self-conscious. Dental implants are stable, your teeth held firmly in place. There is no worrying about whether or not they will stay in place while you talk or eat. They look, work, and feel just like natural teeth. As a result, your confidence increases.

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.

Victorville Office

12120 Ridgecrest Road
Suite #203
Victorville, CA 92395

(760) 242-2338

Century City

2080 Century Park E
Ste 1103
Los Angeles, CA 90067

(310) 553-2233
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