If you’ve experienced receding or swelling gums, bleeding when brushing your teeth or you lost multiple teeth; you are likely a good candidate for dental implants. Missing teeth are more than simply annoying and uncomfortable. Our teeth provide nutrients and strength to our jaw bones and without those nutrients, bone around the vacant area gradually shrinks in size and becomes weaker.
Concerned and responsible, you did the smart thing and consulted with your dentist, who then met with fellow oral surgeon experts. Everyone shared their thoughts, weighed pros and cons, and you ultimately decided to move forward with a dental implant procedure.
Let’s look closer at what makes up a dental implant and how they fit with your scenario.
Dental Implants Explained
Dental implants are specially designed medical devices that substitute for missing teeth, functioning as an artificial tooth root which then supports a dental prosthesis such as dentures, crowns, or bridges. This fascinating medical technology can offer patients dramatic, life-changing improvements.
Wondering how a dental implant works? Here is a brief summary of an implant’s three components; the fixture, abutment, and prosthesis (or crown):
The fixture, closely resembling a threaded bolt shaft, is embedded into the jawbone and fuses with it to act as an artificial tooth root. Material used in implant fixtures is typically highly pure titanium, or ceramic such as zirconia.
Special bone-regeneration material called hydroxyapatite is sometimes applied to the fixture’s surface to speed up the fusion process, which typically takes many months.
The implant abutment is a small “stud” extending above the gum line. The abutment, typically added after fusion is complete, supports the crown and secures it to the fixture. Similar to implant fixtures, abutments are made of metal, ceramic, or a hybrid material.
The prosthesis of an implant is the final dental work such as crowns, dentures, or bridges. Depending on its location and make-up, a prosthesis can be cemented, screwed, or clipped into place.
Dental Implants for Multiple Teeth: What You Should Know
If you have lost multiple teeth or suspect failing teeth, there are several available treatment options including an implant-supported bridge, fixed bridge, and removable denture.
Removable Partial Denture
Widely used in the past, partial dentures secure to adjacent teeth with snugly-fitting clasps. The downside is the clasps put undue pressure on their host teeth and gums, which weakens the jaw bone and can actually lead to further tooth loss and eventually, deteriorating bones.
Multiple Tooth Fixed Bridge
This treatment option, also popular in years past, comes with an even greater degree of risks such as decay, bone loss and atrophy, and root canal infections. In addition, larger tooth bridges almost always fail sooner than single bridges. To remedy this, addressing loss of multiple teeth adopts the use of a fixed bridge anchored by supporting implants while introducing crowns into the gap.
A bridge supported with an anchored implant is a far more effective (nearly 100 percent) option for all varieties of failing or missing teeth, with an array of advantages including:
- Comfort and stability
- Maintains facial structure integrity
- Preserves adjacent healthy teeth
- Slows and often stops bone deterioration
- Restores healthy gums
- They look and function like “real” teeth
- No more adhesive mess all over the place
However, before dental implants can be placed, your doctor must complete a thorough evaluation of your entire mouth to confirm the presence of adequate bone tissue.
Once an implant is placed, your body reacts to the titanium material by building bone around it in a fascinating process called osseointegration. Without sufficient jawbone tissue to hold the titanium implants in place; the two components will not properly fuse.
If you don’t have adequate bone tissue, are you out of luck for dental implants? The short answer is no, but it involves additional bone graft surgery and significant increase in time.
We all know that brushing every day, flossing, and regular dental visits should be an active part of our daily routine but consistent and thorough oral care goes beyond a bright white smile. Caring for your teeth and gums has a direct and positive impact on overall health and can actually add years to your life.
For more information on dental implants and options that best fit your scenario, call Rancho San Diego Dental today at (619) 670-5571.