Tooth loss is a common problem in the United States. This condition is known as edentulism and affects the most vulnerable populations: the economically disadvantaged and the elderly.
There are several causes of tooth loss: tooth decay, gum disease, injury/trauma, cancer, normal wear and tear, and more. Edentulism is the condition of missing all teeth and affects the most vulnerable populations, the economically disadvantaged and the elderly.
Approximately 90% of individuals suffering from edentulism have dentures. Again, the number of Americans with edentulism is expected to rise over the next 20 years. In 15 years, the number of individuals missing at least one tooth will reach 200 million.
There are several consequences to missing teeth: changes in nutrition, diabetes, some forms of cancer, coronary artery disease, and obesity. However, you don’t have to be without teeth. You do have solutions: dentures, bridges, and dental implants.
Dental implants are the best because they become part of your teeth. They are inserted into your jawbone, and as the jawbone heals, it fuses with the implant. This means that the implant will not move or shift- it will stay in place and look and function like natural teeth.
Technically, the implant is the artificial root that is placed into your jaw to hold the prosthetic tooth or bridge. However, most of the time, when people talk about dental implants, they are talking about the whole thing: the artificial, titanium root and the prosthetic tooth.
The implant becomes part of your molars because the dentist cuts a hole in your gum, drills a hole in your jawbone, and places the titanium rod. As healing takes place, the jawbone is stimulated to grow, ultimately fusing around the rod. This firmly holds it in place so you don’t have to worry that people will know it’s fake.
Dental implants may be ideal for patients who have lost one or more teeth due to an injury/trauma, periodontal disease, or some other reason and would prefer not to wear dentures.
Endosteal implants are the most common type, and includes screws, blades, or cylinders inserted into the jawbone. Each implant will hold at least one prosthetic tooth. This is most often the alternative for patients who are already wearing removable dentures or bridges.
Before your dentist decides if you are an ideal candidate for dental implants, you will undergo a consultation visit. If the following criteria applies to you, then you are a good candidate for a dental implant.
Dental implants are connected with your gum tissues and your jawbone, so they become part of your molars. They are a permanent solution for your missing teeth. Other tooth replacement options, such as bridges or dentures must be replaced from time to time, but dental implants should last for the rest of your lifetime.
Your periodontist will create a treatment plan that fits your needs and desires based on your specific condition and the implant chosen. Here are some of the treatment plan options based on your situation:
Sinus Augmentation: Quantity and quality of your jawbone are critical when it comes to the success of your dental implants. Traditionally, the upper back jaw is the most difficult areas to place dental implants due to the proximity of the sinus cavity and the lack of sufficient bone quantity and quality. However, sinus augmentation, also known as sinus lift surgery, can be used to correct this problem. This procedure lifts the sinus floor and creates bone to place dental implants.
Ridge Modification: Patients with deformities in their upper or lower jaw may not have the quantity or quality of bone needed to place dental implants. In order to combat this issue, the gum is lifted from the ridge. This exposes the void where the bone is missing so that bone or bone substitute can be used to fill it in, building up the ridge. Not only doe ridge modification increase the chances of successful dental implants, it also improves the appearance of the jaw.
Dental implants are just like your natural teeth, you must practice good oral hygiene habits at home and continue to visit the dentist at least annually, preferably every 6 months. This will help preserve the function and appearance of your implants as well as prevent peri-implant disease. You need to make sure that you are brushing twice daily and flossing once.
After receiving your dental implant, your dentist and periodontist will work with you to create a care plan. They will schedule follow-up visits periodically so they can keep an eye on your implant, gums, and teeth to ensure they are healthy.