Your dentist's primary purpose is to save your natural teeth at all costs. But, you may lose your teeth to decay, trauma, and gum diseases. Tooth loss not only affects the aesthetics of your smile but also hampers your oral health. Dental implants replace your missing teeth and restore your smile and oral health. It involves the surgical placement of a false tooth root in your jaw, below the gum line. The false tooth root is then attached to a crown to restore the tooth structure above the gum line.
Why missing teeth should be replaced?
Missing teeth are often considered a cosmetic problem but in reality, they pose serious oral health hazards and affect your lifestyle in many ways. Following are a few reasons to elucidate the importance of replacing missing teeth.
- Restore your self-esteem and confidence
Missing teeth create unwanted and unsightly gaps in your smile. These not only affect the aesthetics of your smile but also your self-confidence. Replacing missing teeth with dental implants provides a natural looking symmetric smile and enhances your personality to make you feel confident.
- Prevent opposing teeth from extruding out
Healthy teeth are in contact with the opposing teeth present either above or below them. When you lose a tooth, the contact for the opposing tooth is lost. Restoring the lost contact is important to prevent the opposing teeth from becoming loose and extruding out.
- Prevent the adjacent teeth from shifting
Missing teeth leave gaps and the adjacent teeth start shifting and tilting into the gap. Shifting of teeth causes malocclusion and other orthodontic issues.
- Prevent bone loss.
Bone structure present below the gumline receives stimulation from the tooth roots, which keeps them sturdy and healthy. When a tooth is lost, the underlying bone structure loses its stimulation and starts to recede. If missing teeth are not replaced, the underlying bone structure will dissolve, causing the facial contour to droop.
- Reduce the risk of gum diseases
Missing teeth produce tender and sensitive areas in the mouth that are painful to brush and floss. Shifting and tilting teeth also tend to create hard-to-access vulnerable regions that are not easy to clean and maintain. Plaque and bacteria accumulate in these regions and lead to gum diseases.
- Improve the chewing ability and evenly distribute the chewing force
When you lose your back teeth, you also lose your ability to chew food efficiently. You may experience digestive issues, which often hamper your body's nutrition balance. Also, gaps between teeth cause a bizarre distribution of chewing and biting force, which may exercise more stress on some teeth and less on some. This uneven distribution of force causes teeth to wear out and become weak.
Why should you choose dental implants to replace missing teeth?
- Dental implants are the closest you will ever get to a natural tooth. It restores the tooth’s structure both above and below the gumline. Titanium screws are used as false tooth roots. Titanium, being biocompatible, fuses with the natural bone and becomes an integral part of it. It makes the false tooth look, feel, and function like a natural tooth.
- Dental implants are extremely durable and last a lifetime. They fuse with the underlying bone and provide a sturdy and permanent replacement for missing teeth.
- Not only do dental implants replace missing teeth, but also preserve the underlying bone structure and prevent it from receding. This benefit is not provided by any other teeth replacement technique.
- Unlike other teeth replacement techniques like bridges and crowns, dental implants do not affect the health and structure of the adjacent teeth.
- Dental implants stand firm in place and don't shift or click like dentures. They allow you to eat and speak properly without any hindrance.
- Maintenance of dental implants does not require any extra oral care. Brushing and flossing regularly twice a day is enough to keep your implants healthy.
- Since dental implants preserve the bone structure, the facial contour remains sturdy to make your face appear youthful.
How are dental implants placed?
Below is a step-by-step guide to explain the procedure of dental implant placement.
- Initial consultation and planning
Your dentist will perform a detailed oral evaluation with the help of digital X-rays to determine vital information and generate a customized treatment plan for you.
- Setting the Stage
Dental implants are extremely durable and have an excellent success rate if placed under healthy conditions. The mouth is professionally cleaned to remove any signs of plaque, tartar or trapped food particles. Also, teeth are restored with fillings and root canal treatments to reduce the risk of infection and implant failure.
- Tooth extraction and bone grafting
If the damaged tooth is still intact, it is extracted under local anesthesia to create space for the implant. Next, your dentist will check the bone density of the site where the implant is to be placed. If you don't have enough bone density, bone grafting will be performed to improve the thickness of your bone. Bone grafting is a surgical procedure in which bone from a donor area is transplanted to the target area. Your jaw will take several months to heal before the placement of the implant. However, if you have enough jawbone to support the implant, your dentist will proceed to the next step.
- Implant placement
Dental implant placement requires a simple surgical procedure. A small flap is cut in gums and a hole is drilled in the jawbone. The titanium screw is put in the hole and carefully secured. The gum is sutured back in place. A healing cap is placed over the implant to ensure the gum heals in the right contour. A temporary restoration may be placed over the implant to wear during the healing period.
Osseointegration is the process through which the titanium screw placed in your jaw gradually fuses with the natural bone present around it. It makes the implant stable and strong enough to support and retain your new tooth. Osseointegration takes 4-6 months to complete and your mouth will be allowed to heal during this period.
- Impression of your tooth
During or before the healing period impressions of your tooth will be taken to custom-fabricate a dental restoration. The dental restorations are fabricated in a dental laboratory to match the color, shape, and size of your tooth.
- Placement of the abutment and dental restoration
After the implant has successfully integrated with your jawbone, it will be attached to an abutment, which is used to connect the implant to a crown, bridge or denture. The dental restoration will then be finally screwed to the implant to restore your tooth fully.
At Murray Dental Care of Cupertino, our entire team of dentists and hygienists is committed to providing supreme quality dental care to our patients and their families. If you are inclined towards taking the first steps to improve your dental health and hygiene, call us at (408) 253-5277 to book an appointment.