What Causes Tooth Loss?You can lose teeth for many different reasons. One of the most common causes of tooth loss is periodontal, or gum, disease. As periodontal disease progresses, bacteria travel below your gumline, leading to the formation of periodontal pockets. The bacteria then begin to attack your periodontal ligaments and your jawbone as well as your gum tissue. These supporting structures begin to weaken over time, causing your teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.
Other factors that can result in tooth loss include:
|•||Facial trauma. There are several situations that can result in facial trauma, including a car accident, a fall, or a sports related injury.
|•||Bruxism. When you grind and clench your teeth, the excessive pressure can wear on the supporting structures of your teeth, causing your teeth to become loose and fall out.
|•||Severe tooth decay. Severely decayed teeth may be beyond repairing with fillings or crowns, and therefore require extraction.|
Effects of Tooth LossTooth loss affects every aspect of your life. One of the most obvious effects of tooth loss is the impact it has on your smile. The quality of your smile is greatly diminished, which can have a significant impact on the impressions you make. Additionally, tooth loss can lead to self-consciousness, leaving you trying to hide your smile from those around you. You may even refuse to smile at all.
While it may be the most obvious effect of tooth loss, aesthetic effects are only one of the many effects. When you suffer tooth loss, biting and chewing become significantly more challenging. This can affect your ability to eat many of your favorite foods. Not only that, but your ability to thoroughly chew your food is greatly affected. When you cannot properly chew, your body is unable to completely break down what you are eating. Your body has a harder time digesting food, which can then lead to malnutrition.
Tooth loss can impact your speech. Your teeth are responsible for controlling the flow of air when you talk. Without your teeth, you may develop a lisp or have other difficulties forming specific words and sounds. You may have a much harder time communicating.
Something else happens when you lose your teeth. This effect is not noticeable, at least not right away. When you suffer tooth loss, your jawbone begins to lose bone mass. Your teeth are responsible for the stimulation of your jawbone, which lets your body know to send essential nutrients. Without teeth, your jaw loses stimulation. As a result, your body sends fewer nutrients. Over time, the bone begins to weaken and lose mass. The bone begins to change shape, which causes other teeth remaining in the arch to begin shifting out of alignment. This can lead to other serious complications, including an increased risk of tooth damage, bruxism, and TMJ disorder.
What are Dental Implants?Dental implants are a solution we can provide to replace missing teeth. They provide a modern, unique, alternative to traditional bridges and dentures. Where traditional restorations sit above the gumline, dental implants use small titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone. Dental implants consist of 3 components.
|•||The post. The post, made of a titanium alloy, is the part of the implant that is surgically placed within your jawbone. As you heal, your bone fuses to this post, stabilizing it within your jaw. It essentially becomes a replacement root.
|•||The abutment. The abutment, or connector, is a piece that is placed on the implant post to provide stability for your new teeth.
|•||The crown. The crown, typically made from ceramic, is your actual replacement tooth. It restores your abilities to eat and speak while also restoring the appearance of your smile. Read more about the history of dental implants.|
Implants to Meet Many NeedsDental implants are an extremely versatile treatment. They can be used to meet many different tooth replacement needs. We provide many different types of dental implants, including:
|•||Single tooth implants. A single tooth implant is a restoration used to replace an individual tooth. It is possible to have more than one of these types of implants in your mouth. Consisting of a single post to support a single crown, single tooth implants can replace single missing teeth in different areas of your mouth or even individual teeth that are right next to one another.
|•||Multiple tooth implants. A multiple tooth implant is also called an implant supported bridge. This is a restoration that is provided to replace two or more consecutive missing teeth. The number of posts required depends on several factors, including the number of teeth being replaced and what your jawbone looks like.
|•||Full arch restorations. A full arch restoration is one that replaces an entire arch of teeth. This restoration can be used in your upper arch or your lower arch. Typically, 6 to 8 implant posts are used to provide support for your restorations.
|•||All-on-4® Treatment Concept. In cases of too much bone loss, a bone graft may be required to restore missing bone mass and increase the success of your implants. If you are missing an entire arch of teeth, however, we can help to avoid the need for a bone graft with a treatment known as All-on-4. This treatment uses only four implant posts to support your arch of replacement teeth.|
How Did Implants Come to Be?Implants have been around for thousands of years. Originally, implants were used to replace missing teeth after death. They are believed to have been placed to prepare the deceased for the afterlife. Implants have been found in various cultures all around the world.
Modern dental implants are the result of an accidental discovery. In the 1950s, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon by the name of Per-Ingvar Bråenmark was performing research on how bones heal and regenerate. During this research, he placed a titanium cylinder into the femur of a rabbit. When he tried to remove it later, he found that the bone had begun fusing with it. What Bråenmark had discovered was osseointegration, the process of living bone being able to attach to metal.
This discovery led to Bråenmark conducting more research. He eventually developed dental implants and placed the first ones in 1965. Research and development continue to this day. Improvements are constantly being made, making implants stronger and more reliable. There has even been research into other materials, allowing us to provide you with an alternative to titanium alloy. Today, there are zirconia implants, also called ceramic implants. With alternative materials, we can make implants available to more patients who have suffered tooth loss, including those who may not be able to use metal.
Getting Your Dental ImplantsThe process for getting dental implants requires surgery. Surgery is done under a local anesthetic and sedation. We first start with small incisions in your gums, which provide us with access to your jawbone. Next, small holes are drilled into your jawbone, and the posts are placed directly inside. Finally, your gums are sutured closed, and temporary teeth are set into place.
After your implant surgery, we provide you with specific aftercare instructions. These instructions provide you with information on how to deal with common post-surgical issues, such as pain and swelling, what to eat, what to avoid, and how to care for your surgical wounds. The instructions will also let you know when you should call the office.
The recovery process for dental implants is dependent upon many factors but typically lasts several weeks to several months. During this time, your jawbone gradually fuses to the posts, turning them into strong roots. The posts will then be able to provide your teeth with stability, holding them securely in place. Once you have fully healed, we then begin the process of placing your final dental restorations. We begin by removing the temporary teeth and placing the abutments. Next, an impression of your mouth is taken. This impression is sent to our dental lab, where it is used to design and create your final restorations. Once they are complete, we check them to ensure proper fit and a natural bite. If there are no adjustments required, we secure your new teeth into place on the posts using small screws.
Do Implants Require Special Care?One of the great things about dental implants is that you can take care of them just like your natural teeth. They can, and should, be brushed twice a day and flossed at least once a day. You should also maintain routine dental cleanings and exams.
Even if all of your teeth have been replaced with dental implants, this care is still important. While your ceramic crowns cannot decay or develop cavities, they can still collect plaque and bacteria. An accumulation of these substances can lead to periodontal disease. If your gums become irritated and inflamed, they can begin to pull away from the surfaces of your teeth, leading to the formation of periodontal pockets.
Bacteria fall below the gumline, where they can begin attacking your jawbone, including the bone around your implant posts. This causes the bone to become weak. As a result, your implants can become unstable, which can result in implant failure. With good oral hygiene practices, your implants will remain strong and stable while you keep your mouth healthy.
How Much Do Implants Cost?The cost of dental implants varies from patient to patient. There are several factors that go into determining your overall cost. One of the biggest factors is how many implants are being placed. Other factors that go into the cost of implants are the types of sedation used if you need a bone graft first, and the total number of appointments required. The cost you pay out of pocket may also depend upon your dental insurance provider. More and more insurance companies are providing at least some coverage for implants. Contact your dental insurance provider to learn more.
Benefits of Dental ImplantsDental implants but provide many significant benefits. These benefits include:
|•||A completely natural appearance. The ceramic crowns look exactly like real teeth. The material can be stained to perfectly blend in with the rest of your real teeth, and it even reflects light just like natural enamel.
|•||A completely natural feel and function. Your implants feel just like your real teeth. All of the functions of your mouth are also perfectly restored.
|•||Greater comfort. Your new teeth are supported by the implant posts and your jawbone, rather than your gums or your adjacent teeth. This avoids unnecessary pressure on your gums and adjacent teeth and prevents painful sores.
|•||Permanent treatment. Your posts are integrated into your jaw as a result of osseointegration. They essentially become new roots that provide secure support for your new teeth. Even if your dental crowns wear down, break, or need replacing, we can do this without having to remove the posts.
|•||Protection of your jawbone. The posts not only support your replacement teeth, but they also restore the stimulation to your jawbone. This restores the delivery of essential nutrients to the jaw and surrounding areas. Your implants help to stop and prevent bone loss, allowing your jaw to remain strong and healthy. Read more about the benefits of dental implants.|
Am I a Candidate?Before you can receive dental implants, an initial consultation is needed first to determine if the treatment is right for you. We go over your medical history to determine if you have any chronic conditions that might interfere with surgery or healing. We discuss your lifestyle habits, including tobacco and alcohol use. While these habits do not disqualify you from implants, you will be recommended to quit before treatment.
We also examine your mouth. This allows us to spot tooth decay and periodontal disease, issues that will need to be treated before implants can be placed. We also take x-rays, which allow us to determine if you need a bone graft first. Following your initial consultation, we can then create a customized treatment plan that will provide you with the best results. Read more about whether you might be a dental implant candidate.
Dental implants provide you with a long-term, even permanent, solution for tooth loss, giving you back the functions of your mouth, your smile, and your quality of life. For more information, and to schedule your consultation, call Encino Cosmetic Dentistry today at (818) 783-0408.