If you are careful with your teeth and vigilant about maintenance and oral hygiene, chances are you won’t have to experience the pain and annoyance of missing teeth. However, if you do end up losing one or more of your teeth through accident, injury or infection, dental implants can be an ideal solution.
For those who haven’t heard of the treatment before, you may be wondering exactly what a dental implant is, how it works, and why it may be necessary. Read on to find out the answers to those questions and more.
The Problem With A Missing Tooth
If you’ve never lost a tooth (or multiple teeth) before, you might be wondering why a solution like dental implants or dentures would be necessary. However, there are several reasons why it’s imperative to see a dental practitioner or specialist as soon as you experience the loss of a tooth.
Your teeth are essential for helping you bite, chew and talk normally. Losing a tooth or several teeth at a time can have a serious impact on the way you are able to break down food in your mouth, and this can even lead to you changing your dietary choices (and therefore, nutritional intake) over a gradual period of time.
Additionally, tooth loss can be very painful. If it is caused by a trauma or injury to the facial area, this can involve a significant amount of recovery time to get you feeling back to normal, and afterwards you will still have to deal with the problems outlined above.
There is also a cosmetic element involved. Lost teeth can leave large and visible gaps in the smile, which can make people dissatisfied with the physical appearance of their teeth.
However, a full set of teeth isn’t important just for cosmetic reasons – it is also a vital component of good oral health. If you have one or more of your teeth missing, this can spark a gradual chain of events leading to significant bone loss and physical changes in the shape of your facial structure.
Underneath each tooth is a root that stimulates the jawbone underneath. This jawbone needs constant chewing action to spark bone growth and support bone health. Just as a muscle in your body will start to fade away if left unused, so too can the bone in your mouth gradually disappear without stimulation from the tooth above.
If you lose a tooth or several teeth, you may experience bone loss underneath the gap. This can lead to the shifting of the facial structure around the mouth that most people associated with ageing.
Finding A Solution
Dental implants (also known as a tooth implant) offer a permanent solution for tooth replacement that helps to stimulate this vital bone mass. The implant itself has the appearance of a small post or spike made from hospital-grade titanium.
Your dental practitioner will place this implant into the jawbone in a surgical procedure. Once anchored into the bone, it can support any number of replacement structures above the gum line, such as a crown, bridge, or even a full set of dentures.
A crown is a type of ‘cap’ that can be made from materials such as acrylic, porcelain and metal. They can be added onto an existing tooth to improve its appearance or, in conjunction with a dental implant, replace a single lost tooth.
Because of the dental implants, you are not just utilising a cosmetic replacement for the missing teeth. As you chew and use your new teeth, the pressure will stimulate the jawbone underneath via the tooth implant. In this way, the dental implant supports a full cosmetic restoration and prevents further bone loss around the missing tooth.
Placing dental implants is a surgical procedure and as such, requires specialist knowledge. A periodontist is a dental practitioner who focuses on preventing, treating and diagnosing diseases in the gum tissues as well as placing dental implants.
Preventing Lost Teeth
A dental implant can be a permanent solution for the damage caused by missing teeth, but it’s important to do what you can to prevent this from happening in the first place. One of the reasons why we lose teeth is due to infection from dental decay.
One of the first steps you can take to protect yourself from decay is brushing and flossing regularly. Thorough oral care and maintenance will ensure your teeth are as clean as possible, reducing the risk of plaque and tartar build-up.
Remember to change your brush every three months to preserve its effectiveness, and combine twice-daily brushing with a flossing session.
It’s recommended to visit a dentist regularly as well, so he or she can give you a deeper clean and keep an eye on your oral health. This means that any problems can be picked up and resolved before they go on to cause more serious damage – which may require more intensive (and expensive) treatment.
If you are concerned about your oral health, or would like more information about dental implants, see your dental practitioner for guidance.