Whether you have one tooth to replace or many, modern dentistry offers several options to conceal a gap in the teeth. Some options are more cosmetic than they are therapeutic, so speaking with your dentist will inform you of the best course of action for your needs and circumstances.
What is an implant?
Implants are steadily gaining popularity among patients, as they offer a long-term solution to tooth loss. When a tooth is lost, an implant is installed in its place with a false tooth and false root. The false root post is screwed into the jawbone and left to fuse with the bone before attaching the pontic (false tooth).
What are its alternatives?
Depending upon how many teeth have been lost, there are several alternatives available to implants. A bridge may be placed to conceal the tooth loss by attaching a false tooth to its neighbouring teeth. This new ‘tooth’ sits against the gum tissue and can assist with chewing.
If you’ve lost several teeth, a dentist may recommend partial or full dentures. Dentures remain a popular option for patients, though they do have some drawbacks. Dentures are made to be adjusted over time and to evolve with the jaw of the patient. While adjustment are helpful, some patients may find that achieving a comfortable fit that lasts is challenging. Lack of good fit can make eating and speaking difficult, since dentures can lose their seal or cause sore spots on the gums from friction.
Why are they so popular?
Implants are a long-term solution to tooth loss, with some implants now being shown to maintain effectiveness beyond thirty years. Implants are custom made for the patient – allowing them to choose the size, shape and shade of the teeth. Colour matching technology means that, once in place, implants are indistinguishable from natural teeth. The greatest benefit of dental implants are found in their ability to mimic a natural tooth to keep the jaw bone strong.
How they work
Your teeth are amazing – they are alive and communicating with the brain continuously. Every time you bite down on a piece of food, the force of that bite is shared across the dental arch and down into the root of the teeth. The root is housed snugly inside bone socket which is recording pressure all the time.
Have you ever been told to do weight bearing exercises to keep your bones strong? That’s because there is a relationship between the strength of bone and the demands placed upon it. You might be inclined to dismiss these bite forces as only a small factor, but the fact is that human bite forces are some of the strongest among mammals. Even chimps lose to humans where bite force capability is concerned.
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That means that the bite forces sustained by your jaw are significant, and are what keeps our jaw strong. When you bite down, the pressure is felt down the shaft of the tooth’s root and into the jaw bone where it is registered as a call for reinforcement of the bone tissue. This relationship offers us the ability to maintain bone density and strength, but what happens when a tooth is lost?
When a tooth or teeth are removed from their socket for any reason, the jaw stops receiving that deep stimulation that it requires to stay strong. In as little as six months, the effects of bone resorption can begin to deteriorate the bone around the gap. This is the reason for a shortening of the facial profile in denture wearers, since dentures provide only about ten percent of what is required to maintain a healthy jawbone.
Dental implants resolve this concern by using a titanium rod as a false root. Titanium is effective at bonding with bone tissue and can, therefore, transfer bite forces from the false tooth down to the abutment (attachment), and down the false root to the bone tissue that secures it. Dental implants provide 80-90% of natural bite force and allows the patient to retain the profile of the lower face.
Dental implants represent a financial investment in the long-term health of your teeth and jaw, but not all patients are strong candidates for the procedure. To understand what is possible for your teeth, a consultation with your dentist is required.
If you have questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today.
SOLEA® - DRILL & NEEDLE FREE DEntistry
The miracle we’ve both been waiting for is here: Solea. Now available to you, Solea is a powerful dental laser that replaces the dental drill in the majority of procedures in our practice. It’s fast, precise and there is no vibration, or noise.