The following information is designed to provide helpful facts so you can make an informed decision as to whether dental implants are right for your situation.
Dental Implants and Roots
The key benefit of dental implants over other tooth replacement systems is that an implant connects directly to the jaw bone. It’s obviously not the same as the original connection, but functions just the same. When a tooth is lost, bone loss will eventually occur in that region because the root is no longer stimulating and stabilizing the bone. By using titanium--which biochemically joins to bone--to replace the root, you get a bond that more accurately replicates the one found in nature.
What Happens When You Lose a Tooth?
When you lose a tooth, especially a back tooth, you may feel you don’t need to replace it, since no one can see that it’s missing and you have plenty of other teeth. However, there is more bone loss going on under the surface once a tooth is lost. Surrounding each tooth is an alveolar bone that supports the tooth and when the tooth is lost, that bone basically melts away. This is why people who have lost most of their teeth and are not wearing dentures appear to have a caved-in appearance to their mouths.
Besides causing damage to the immediate area, tooth loss affects remaining teeth as well. Teeth create a structure for the face and their loss can shift the surrounding teeth, creating esthetic issues and bite problems. A lost tooth can also affect facial structures such as the jaw, muscles, jaw joints, and even the skin. If several teeth are lost, it’s not uncommon to suffer from social consequences and poor nutrition.
When the supporting alveolar bone melts away, it’s gone for good, but through grafting, a skilled dental professional can recreate bone to fuse with and support an implant. This is wonderful news, but it is still best to have a dental implant as soon as possible after the tooth is lost for the most predictable esthetic outcome.
Replacing a tooth with an implant and a crown is not a one-day procedure. The implant needs time to properly adhere to the bone and create a healthy fusion before the crown can be attached and full bite force can be applied. In most cases, it will take a few months to complete the process.
Due to the timeline, dental implants are actually a series of steps; each is very different and may require an individual specialist. The best place to start is with an AACD member dentist.