Dental Implants In-Depth
Your teeth are a crucial component in your mouth. They perform many essential functions. Suffering tooth loss affects every aspect of your life. Following tooth loss, it is important that you have your missing teeth replaced as soon as possible. Today, there are several options available for tooth replacement. At Treasure Valley Oral & Facial Surgery, we can replace your missing teeth with dental implants.
How Do You Lose Teeth?
One of the most common causes of tooth loss is periodontal, or gum, disease. Periodontal disease begins as a bacterial infection in your mouth. Bacteria build up and begin to irritate your gums. The irritation triggers an inflammatory response, which causes the gums to swell. You may notice your gums are a bit red and that they bleed when you brush and floss.
Without treatment, the periodontal disease only gets worse. The swollen gum tissue begins to pull away from your teeth, which causes pockets to form between the tissue and your teeth. These pockets collect bacteria, plaque, and other debris and they cannot be cleaned thoroughly with just brushing and flossing. The pockets continue to grow deeper and deeper, causing your gums to recede. Your teeth appear longer, and you may begin to notice tooth sensitivity.
Bacteria eventually reach your jawbone and periodontal ligaments. They attack these supporting structures, causing them to grow weaker. As a result, your teeth become loose and may begin to shift out of alignment. When they lose too much support, the teeth begin to fall out.
Periodontal disease is just one cause of tooth loss. Another common cause is facial trauma. There are many types of traumatic facial injuries. You can suffer facial trauma as a result of a car accident, a sports injury, a fall at home or work, or as a result of a physical fight. Facial injuries can cause immediate tooth loss. They may also cause severe tooth damage that results in the need for the affected teeth to be extracted.
Severe tooth decay can also lead to tooth loss. When your teeth are severely decayed, there may not be healthy enough for a restoration such as a filling or a crown. In these cases, the best option is to extract the tooth.
What Happens When You Lose Teeth?
Tooth loss has several serious effects. One of the most obvious effects of tooth loss, particularly when you lose teeth at the front of your mouth, is what happens to your smile. Gaps in your smile affect its quality. Missing teeth can also affect your confidence, leading you to hide your smile. A less than perfect smile can affect the impressions you make and how others see you.
Losing teeth affects your abilities to bite and chew your food properly. When you cannot thoroughly chew your food, your body has a harder time properly digesting what you eat. As a result, your body is not able to absorb all of the nutrients the food has to offer. Even if you eat well, tooth loss can lead to malnutrition.
Tooth loss affects your speech. Your teeth control airflow and also provide a surface for your tongue to hit against. These features enable you to form all kinds of sounds and words. When you lose teeth, the air can flow freely. You may develop a lisp or other speech complications. You may find that others have a harder time understanding you and that you have to repeat yourself several times.
Under the gums, tooth loss also affects your jawbone. The roots of your teeth provide stimulation for your jawbone. This stimulation is what tells your body to send nutrients essential for the health and strength of the bone. When you lose teeth, your jawbone loses some of this stimulation. Your body sends fewer nutrients as a result. Over time, the bone begins to weaken and lose mass. The bone begins to change shape, which alters the alignment of your healthy teeth. You may also begin to notice changes in the shape of your face, which can also cause your facial skin to sag and wrinkles to form.
There are several options available for replacing missing teeth. Traditionally, teeth have been replaced using a bridge or dentures. These options are still available. Today, you also have the option of dental implants.
Dental implants are a unique solution for replacing missing teeth. This treatment uses titanium posts to provide support for your replacement teeth, which are made from ceramic. The posts are surgically implanted into your jawbone, taking the place of the roots of your missing teeth. As you heal from the procedure, your jawbone fuses to these posts, essentially integrating them into your jaw.
This is a natural process called osseointegration. Once complete, the posts are secure and stable. They cannot be taken out. Your ceramic crowns are secured into place on these posts. The crowns look exactly like your real teeth. The material also reflects light just like your natural tooth enamel. Ceramic is also fairly strong and can stand up to daily wear and tear.
Types of Dental Implants
Dental implants can meet many different types of needs. Whether you have lost a single tooth or an entire arch, there is a dental implant for just about everyone.
Single tooth implants are meant to replace individual teeth. This type of implant uses a single post that provides support for a single crown. A single tooth implant can be used in the event you have lost just one tooth or if you have individual teeth missing in different parts of your mouth.
A multiple tooth implant is meant to replace two or more consecutive missing teeth, providing an alternative to a traditional bridge or partial denture. The number of posts required for this treatment will vary based upon your individual needs. The amount of bone mass in your jaw also plays a role in how many posts should be used.
If you are missing an entire arch of teeth, a full arch restoration, or implant supported denture, provides an alternative to a traditional full denture. This treatment typically uses 6 to 8 implant posts to support your replacement teeth.
The condition of your jawbone plays a significant role in your ability to get to dental implants. If you have lost too much bone mass, the bone may not fuse properly, or at all to the posts. This can lead to loose implants or implant failure. To make dental implants possible in the event of bone loss, a bone graft may be required.
If you are missing a full arch of teeth, however, you may be able to avoid the need for a bone graft. We can provide a different type of full arch restoration call All on 4. This is a treatment that uses only 4 implant posts rather than 6 to 8. The posts are strategically placed in your jaw to maximize contact between them and your bone, helping to ensure optimal osseointegration.
The Development of Dental Implants
Dental implants are commonly thought to be a modern development. The ones used to replace teeth today are the result of modern research and development. However, dental implants have been around for thousands of years. Evidence of implants has been found in ancient skeletons all around the globe. This evidence has shown that implants were placed after death. The belief is that implants were once used as a way to prepare the body for the afterlife.
Modern day implants are the result of the research of a Swedish orthopedic surgeon by the name of Per-Ingvar Brånemark. In the 1950s, he was performing research on how bones heal. During this research, he placed a titanium cylinder into the femur of a rabbit. Unbeknownst to him, the bone had begun fusing to the cylinder. He only discovered this when he later tried to remove it. What Brånemark had accidentally discovered was osseointegration.
This accidental discovery led Brånemark to conduct further research on what he had found. During his research, he used both animal and human test subjects. Eventually, he developed the first dental implants, which he successfully placed in 1965.
Even after this successful placement, Brånemark did not stop there. He continued his research and development. He entered into a partnership with Bofors AB, a company now called Nobel Industries. This company helped him to create and market his products. Eventually, Bofors AB formed Nobelpharma. This company, now called Nobel Biocare, focuses solely on dental implants. They are currently the industry leader when it comes to dental implant products.
Today, research and development are still going on. There are constantly new developments that are being made that have improved their success and stability and made them more widely available to more tooth loss patients.
The Process for Getting Dental Implants
The process for getting dental implants is more involved than getting other dental restorations. Implants require a surgical procedure. Surgery is done under a local anesthetic and sedation. We begin with small incisions in the gums to expose the bone underneath. Next, small holes are drilled into the bone, and the implant posts are placed directly inside. Finally, your gums are sutured closed around the posts, and temporary teeth are set into place.
After surgery, there is a recovery period. Healing from implant surgery can take several weeks to several months, depending upon several factors. As you heal, your bone gradually fuses to the posts, integrating them into your jaw. Several follow up appointments allow us to monitor your progress and make sure that everything is going well. The appointments also help us to make sure that there are no issues during the recovery process.
After you have fully healed from your surgery, we then begin the process for placing your final dental restorations. This process requires two additional appointments. At the first appointment, impressions of your mouth are taken. These impressions are sent to our dental lab, where they are used to design and fabricate your final restorations. At your second appointment, these restorations are checked to ensure proper fit, a natural appearance, and a comfortable bite. If everything looks good, the teeth are then secured into place with small screws.
What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
There are numerous benefits associated with dental implants. First, they look exactly like your real teeth. The crowns perfectly mimic your natural teeth, and your gum tissue sits around the crowns just like it does with your real teeth. There is no telling the difference between your replacement teeth and your real teeth.
In addition to looking perfectly natural, your dental implants feel and function just like them as well. Because they feel like your real teeth, you do not have to adjust or relearn how to speak with a foreign object in your mouth. Moreover, because they function just like your real teeth, you can eat all of your favorite foods again. You can bite and chew properly and do not have to worry about your teeth moving around or falling out.
Dental implants are much more comfortable than traditional solutions. Bridges are supported by your adjacent teeth. Partial and full dentures are supported by your gums. Dentures can put pressure on your gums, which can lead to discomfort. They can also rub the tissue, leading to painful sores. With dental implants, your replacement teeth are supported by the posts, which are supported by your jawbone.
Dental implants are much easier to care for. When it comes to denture care, you need to remove your teeth and clean them thoroughly before taking care of the rest of your mouth. Then you need to leave your teeth out to soak overnight while you sleep. With dental implants, you can brush and floss your teeth normally.
Finally, dental implants help to preserve the strength and integrity of your jawbone. They are the only tooth replacement solution to provide this benefit. The posts in your jaw restore the stimulation in your jawbone. This tells your body to begin sending more nutrients again. As a result, bone loss is stopped and prevented, and your jawbone remains strong. Dental implants are a long-term, and even permanent, solution for your missing teeth.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
Candidates for dental implants are missing at least one tooth or need tooth extraction. You must be in good overall health. Chronic health conditions should be well-maintained and oral health issues need to be treated before surgery. If you drink or smoke, you will be recommended to quit. Your jawbone should also be in good condition. Dental implants are a great solution for adults of all ages, including seniors. Those with underdeveloped jaws, particularly children and teens, who have lost a permanent tooth will need to consider an alternative treatment until the jaw stops developing.
Dental implants provide an incredible, long-term solution for tooth loss. If you have suffered tooth loss, no matter if you have lost a single tooth or many teeth, it is important to replace them as soon as possible. Call Treasure Valley Oral & Facial Surgery today at (208) 994-6227 to schedule your appointment and find out if dental implants are the right solution for you.