More than 30 million Americans are missing all of their teeth in one or both jaws. By the age of 74, 26% of adults have lost all of their permanent teeth. 69% of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth as a result of an accident, gum disease, a failed root canal or tooth decay.
Although you have a number of restorative options for the treatment of missing teeth, none have proven to be as functionally effective and durable as dental implants. In many cases, dental implants may be the only logical choice for the restoration of all necessary functionality of the teeth and supporting structures.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are precision devices that are used to replace the root of a missing tooth. These titanium posts are anchored into the jawbone where it can support a single tooth crown, a multi-tooth bridge, or stabilize a removable partial or full denture.
What Causes Tooth Loss?
- Teeth are lost because of:
- Tooth decay
- Root canal failure
- Gum Disease
- Trauma to the mouth
- Excessive wear and tear
- Inherited defects
What Happens if I Don’t Pursue Treatment?
Teeth Moving to Fill in space where tooth is MissingYou will feel self-conscious when you smile or talk. Tooth loss will have a negative effect on your eating habits, which could lead to health problems like malnutrition.
You will also experience bone loss if you have missing teeth. The bone may erode and weaken since there is no tooth supporting it possibly leaving insufficient bone to place an implant later on.
Your teeth will naturally try to close the gap of your missing tooth which will cause spacing between your teeth and increase oral hygiene difficulty (See Figure 1).
Why Should I get Dental Implants?
In most cases, dental implants are stronger and more durable than bridges and dentures. Single implants can serve to support your crown replacing a single missing tooth. Implants can also support a dental bridge for replacement of multiple missing teeth. Patients with full dentures often struggle with instability and discomfort which limits their function. Implants placed to help stabilize a denture can decrease pain and allow you to chew without difficulty.
How Do I get Dental Implants?
The importance of this procedure is to create a functional and structural connection between your bone and the dental implant. This process is done through what is called Osseointegration, which anchors the root of the dental implant to your jaw bone (See Figures 2-a, 2-b, 2-c, and 2-d)
The Doctor will perform a thorough oral examination and address the situation that your general dentist has referred you for. This may include but may not be limited to:
- Review your dental and medical history
- Dental exam
- Bite evaluation
- Height and width of your jawbones are measured
- Anatomic structures are identified (nerve positions and sinus proximity)
- Dental x-rays
- 3 dimensional bone scans
If the doctor concludes that you are a good candidate for dental implants, a treatment plan will be prepared for you and anesthesia options discussed. An appointment to begin treatment can then be made.
The Doctor may have to prepare the area where your tooth is missing prior to placing the implant. This could include removal of excess gum tissue or bone, reshaping or rebuilding the bone.
The dental implant will be placed in your jaw and allowed to anchor and heal to the jaw bone. This process usually takes about 3 – 6 months (See Figure 2-b). A temporary tooth can be placed in your mouth while your implant heals.
Once the implant has anchored to your jaw bone, the permanent false tooth can be placed over the implant by your dentist (See Figures 2-c & 2-d). In denture cases, your general dentist will attach the denture to the implants.
Are Dental Implants Successful?
Dental implants have been utilized for over 30 years. Studies have consistently shown success rates above 95%.
How do I Care for My Dental Implants?
Because dental implants bond to your bone, crowns attached to your dental implants look and act similar to natural teeth. When brushing and flossing your dental implants you must use the proper techniques that you use on your natural teeth.
In some cases, the doctors may prescribe a special daily mouth rinse for you. If you do not keep your mouth in good shape, your implants can fail.