Did you know that one in four adults lose all of their permanent teeth by age 74? Tooth loss from accidents, gum disease or decay are commonplace and while dentures and bridgework were go-to options for years, dental implants are a more approachable and popular alternative today. Dental implants offer a natural and attractive look, but the benefits are far more than cosmetic.
What is a dental implant?
The initial answer to that question requires an explanation of traditional oral goings-on. When a tooth is lost, the alveolar bone in the jaw that supports the tooth starts to disintegrate. This can affect facial structure such as the jaw and its related joints, and sometimes surrounding muscles. This also often leads to teeth shifting from their normal positions or challenging issues with bite alignment, which goes on to inspire difficulty chewing and poor nutrition. Replacing missing teeth as soon as possible goes a long way in assuaging these and related side effects.
One way to replace a lost tooth is with a dental implant. A dental implant is a screw or titanium framework (or other material) that supports a replacement tooth. The implant procedure is composed of several steps: First, the implant is anchored into the jawbone area where the new tooth will be placed. When the screw is fully fused to the bone (which typically takes three to six months), a dentist specializing in reconstruction attaches a replacement tooth to a small metal post on the implant.
Dental implants look and function like real teeth, and have none of the common clicking noise or challenges with speaking and chewing that can occur with dentures. People in good health are typically best suited for successful dental implants, but someone with existing health issues can also benefit from the procedure.
The importance of bite alignment
We all want a beautiful smile but the position of our teeth is more important than how they look. In fact, teeth that are crowded or crooked in the mouth can form tight places that make it very difficult to clean with a toothbrush. These nooks and crannies are also favorite breeding grounds for oral bacteria, which can accumulate and form cavities and gum disease.
With dental implants, each tooth helps support neighboring teeth, providing an abutment to keep everything in position. Without the abutment, teeth on either side can lean into the void and the tooth above or below will grow longer, leading to a number of concerning issues such as gum recession.
A misaligned bite causes gum recession due to the gums pulling around the base of teeth. Without a tight seal, bacteria can easily work its way below the surface of the gum line, reach tender tooth root segments, and go on to create decay or periodontal disease.
Another challenge with improperly aligned teeth is the effect on dental implants, including clenching and grinding at night. A dental implant placed in the jaw bone is great as a sturdy foundation for natural tooth roots, but a newly placed implant can still be at risk when surrounding teeth interfere.
Benefits of dental implants
Properly aligned and placed dental implants offer many benefits to patients, including:
With an implant, it is easier to eat foods high in nutrients such as raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Every tooth relies on its neighbors to maintain proper alignment. If one tooth is missing, others will shift to fill in the space, straining adjacent teeth and muscles in the head, neck, and jaw.
Our bodies respond well to titanium, making it easier for an implant to assimilate with the bone.
Dental implant success rates are nearly 100 percent, and implants are very durable and with proper care they can last for a lifetime.
Misalignment can cause clenching or grinding of teeth, resulting in TMJ disorder, considerable pain, and sleepless nights. Those issues also put you at risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure. Ultimately, sound bite alignment is a key ingredient to a healthy body.
Dental implants are widely regarded as the best option for replacing missing teeth or ill- fitting dentures. Dental implants deliver a natural look, dependable functionality, and they help prevent bone loss. Indeed, dental implants are excellent long-term oral replacements.