Whenever you lose a tooth, the biting forces change on the teeth next to the space, causing them to shift. Opposing teeth may even begin to extrude out of the socket, which means they too could eventually be lost.
Also, as your bite changes, it gets more difficult to chew your food, and you may suffer damage to your jaw joint. It’s also much harder to clean teeth that have shifted; harmful plaque and tartar collect in the new hard to-reach places created by the shifting, causing tooth decay and periodontal disease.
As you can see, it’s critical that we replace a lost tooth. An excellent option for replacing a missing tooth is an artificial tooth secured by a dental implant. Dental implants are titanium cylinders that are surgically placed in your jaw to serve as artificial tooth roots. Attaching a replacement tooth to a dental implant allows us to avoid placing a bridge. Bridges require that we prepare the adjacent natural teeth, and that weakens them substantially.
A dental implant and porcelain crown is practically indistinguishable from your natural teeth, and it fits so securely that you won’t even notice it when you chew and speak. When we place dental implants, it’s not necessary for us to alter the structure of the adjacent teeth, so their strength and integrity is maintained. Also, dental implants replace the roots of missing teeth, which helps to fend off the bone loss that occurs when teeth are missing. In essence, a dental implant is the next best thing to your natural tooth.
Start-to-finish, the procedure may require several months to complete, because it can take about three to four months for the dental implant to fuse to your bone tissue through a process called osseointegration. A dental implant won’t work for you if you aren’t in good general health. Your gums and jaw bone must be healthy enough to support the implant, and you must be meticulous about your daily home care routine. You’ll also need to visit us up to four times a year for cleanings.
We won’t recommend dental implants if you suffer from a chronic illness such as diabetes, as this can interfere with healing. And if you are a smoker, you may not be a good candidate for a dental implant; smokers are at greater risk for gum disease, and gum disease weakens the bone and soft tissue needed to support the implant.
If you’re interested in replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant, we will perform a thorough evaluation to determine whether your health and lifestyle make you a good candidate for this relatively new approach to restorative dentistry.
If you have a lower denture, you probably know how hard it can be to eat comfortably. When lower teeth are lost, the bone in the jaw continually recedes. Over time, this causes a lower denture to become loose and floppy. Even worse, there are nerves in the lower jaw that can end up on the surface of the bone. When you bite down, it hurts!
Fortunately, it’s usually possible to place dental implants into the lower jaw so that you can avoid problems associated with dentures. Dental implants are small titanium cylinders that are surgically inserted into the bone of the jaw to replace the roots of missing teeth.
One way to use implants in the lower jaw is to connect the implants with a bar, and then put clips into a new lower denture. These clips snap onto the bar and keep the denture from rocking and shifting. The denture can still be removed at home for easy access and cleaning of the dental implants and bar. Another option is a lower bridge that may be cemented in or held in place by screws.
Using dental implants to support either a lower denture or bridge will keep the pressure off the bone and the nerves. The implants also help stop the bone loss in the jaw that continues once teeth have been removed. Securing restorations with dental implants can make a world of difference, allowing you to eat, talk, laugh and smile with confidence again.