If you have severely damaged or missing teeth, you may have heard about dental implants. Imagine if you could have a perfect smile or a fully functional set of choppers that allowed you to eat your favorite foods without pain or discomfort. When you are missing teeth, you tend to put excessive pressure on the teeth that you have left. This can lead to Cracked Tooth Syndrome, as you age, and diminish the quality of your bite and chewing. Cracked Tooth Syndrome occurs when the teeth begin to form fissures that do not completely break off any part of the tooth but may eventually cause pulp necrosis, broken teeth, and tooth loss.
If you have severely damaged or missing teeth, you may have heard about dental implants. Imagine if you could have a perfect smile or a fully functional set of choppers that allowed you to eat your favorite foods without pain or discomfort.
When you are missing teeth, you tend to put excessive pressure on the teeth that you have left. This can lead to Cracked Tooth Syndrome, as you age, and diminish the quality of your bite and chewing. Cracked Tooth Syndrome occurs when the teeth begin to form fissures that do not completely break off any part of the tooth but may eventually cause pulp necrosis, broken teeth, and tooth loss.
Dental implantation is the latest technique to replace natural teeth with individual replicas that function and look almost exactly like the original teeth. The dental implants are typically made of three components.
They have a titanium implant that is grafted directly into the jawbone. They also feature a crown that is often made of a precisely machined ceramic material to match the size and shape of the original tooth. In between these two pieces, there is a connector to help bond them together called an abutment.
If you schedule an appointment with your dentist, you can have an assessment performed of your bone density and the potential for implants. In most cases, patients need to have bone grafts performed to widen the jaw and redevelop the bone that was lost after the loss of a tooth.
This is because the teeth play a critical role in stimulating growth hormones that keep the jaw healthy. When teeth go missing, patients can lose 20 percent or more of their jawbone in just the first year.
Bone grafts don't necessarily require your dentist to remove a small piece of bone from another area of your body. In most cases, the bone can be stimulated to grow back by using the Alloplast method. Alloplast is a synthetic mixture of hydroxylapatite, calcium, and phosphorous that stimulates new bone growth when it is applied in a bone grafting procedure. Other procedures use bone tissue from an animal, a cadaver, or another part of the patient's body (usually a rib).
Your dentist will take 3D digital images of your mouth and assess the landscape. They can plan the procedure and quote you a price to fit you with dental implants. If your bone density is not strong enough to support implants, they may recommend another type of implants called Subperiosteal because they sit above the jawbone but below the gum tissue.
The most common type of dental implant is called Endosteal and requires placement of a titanium post directly in the jawbone itself. Surgical-grade titanium is the only metal that bonds directly with the bone. And when it is implanted, it becomes a natural part of it as the bone grows and heals over it.
After carefully assessing the health of the jawbone and performing bone grafts, the titanium post is inserted into the jawbone. It can take about six months for the bones to heal over the post and to allow for the stability of the abutment and crown. In most cases, the bone grafting and implantation can be performed at the same time in young healthy patients.
There are very few complications in dental implant procedures. Over three million Americans have undergone the procedure with successful results. More than half a million new patients have the procedure performed every year. The risks of a failed implant come about when patients have trouble healing from any type of surgery due to uncontrollable diabetes or other degenerative disorders.
Absolutely. Natural teeth are secured to the jawbone by ligaments, which do flex. This is why your teeth can become loose if you quit brushing for a period of time and develop gingivitis. Dental implants will not move out of place and are a permanent solution for missing teeth.
Patients who have the procedure performed will not be able to distinguish their false teeth from their natural teeth. They may even prefer to eat on the implanted teeth because they are harder and do not contain nerves, which may cause pain from sensitivity to hot or cold.
If your teeth are severely damaged, you may have the choice between extracting the teeth to have dental implants replace them or a few other procedures. The older methods of replacing missing or damaged teeth used root canals and bridges.
A root canal is a procedure that drills a hole into the center of the tooth and removes all the pulp. The pulp is a mixture of nerves and blood vessels. Once the pulp is removed, the dentist has to perform hours and hours of cleanings using special root canal files.
These thin curved files come in progressive sizes and have to be inserted and removed with tedious precision to clean the tooth before it is sealed. A metal post is inserted into the middle of the tooth for structural teeth before it is sealed with a durable filling material.
Then, the tooth has to be ground down before it can be fitted with a crown that resembles the original tooth. Some of the less expensive crowns are made to a universal size and may not fit in the mouth properly of some patients. Custom-molded crowns are often sent out to a lab using impressions and then sculpted into shape once they are installed in the patient's mouth.
Similar to these root canal procedures, two teeth can be ground down to act as anchors for a dental appliance called a bridge. The bridge is often made of ceramic or metal and securely holds the false teeth into place. The problem with this procedure is that it permanently alters your natural teeth.
Root canals are not very popular because there is a high rate of infection and irritation that follows these procedures, possibly due to coronal leakage that allows bacteria back into the roots. Furthermore, after the pulp is removed, the tooth has no blood supply to remineralize it and can become fragile and break after about seven years.
This is why dental implants are the only permanent solution. Although a properly performed root canal can last much longer when patients properly care for their teeth, a dental implant removes any risk of deterioration.
Dentures are the other alternative to dental implants. Dentures are fake teeth that sit on top of the gums and can be removed from the mouth. The denture material is typically softer than the material used for implants and will scratch and harbor bacterial growth if you brush it using an ordinary toothbrush.
Unfortunately, dentures don't stimulate bone growth like dental implants. This means that patients will lose more and more bone from their jawline every year. As they get older, their jaws can begin to recede and create a telltale sunken-in appearance.
Dental implants are a safe and permanent solution for severely damaged or missing teeth. The procedures are extremely precise because dentists now have advanced 3D imaging technology and innovative tools to simplify the procedure. If you want the very best for your oral health, dental implants are the gold standard. Contact us today to schedule an appoint and fully discuss your dental implant options.