Despite the advances in oral hygiene and complete dental care, many people will lose an adult tooth by the time they are a senior. Factors, such as caries (cavities), periodontal disease (gum disease), trauma and fractured teeth or roots all contribute to the loss of teeth. Beyond the cosmetic issues of missing a tooth, there are many other problems that can occur. For patients that are missing a tooth or multiple teeth dental implants are one of the most effective options for restoring your function and smile.
Our teeth do more than simply help us eat and speak. The roots of our teeth extend into the bone that forms our jaws. The physiologic stresses that we place on our teeth stimulate the bone to keep it healthy. Like our hip bones, if the bone is not stimulated it will weaken and shrink. As the bone shrinks we are at higher risk of developing facial deformities, such as sunken cheeks, malocclusion from teeth shifting and tipping, periodontal disease and even more cavities. Dentures and bridges can help with some of the issues but not all.
Modern dental implants have been placed since the 1960’s. They are artificial roots that are made from medical grade titanium. Titanium is one of the few materials that the bone loves and the bone will grow into the nooks and crannies of the implant locking it into place. This is a process known as osseointegration. Once the implant has integrated, a crown is custom fabricated to match the surrounding teeth. Multiple implants can be splinted together for those who are missing multiple teeth or even all of their teeth! When the implant is in use it will stimulate the bone helping to maintain is size and shape.
One of the main reasons dental implants are so successful is because of a thorough diagnosis and treatment planning phase. We will review your medical and dental history and evaluate the soft tissue in your mouth. Dental radiographs and possibly a 3-D scan (CBCT) will be taken to evaluate the bone. A CBCT allows us to “see” your bone in a three dimensional view so that we can visualize the height, width and shape of the remaining bone. This scan will also help us to visualize adjacent structures such as nerves and your sinus. The use of the CBCT increases the safety of your implant placement.
During the procedure a small incision is made at the top of your gums if needed, (sometimes we don’t even need to make one) and a pilot hole is made. An intraoperative radiograph is taken to confirm our length and placement. The osteotomy (the hole in which the implant gets placed) is then completed and the implant is placed. The bone itself does not actually have any pain receptors in it so most people are comfortable with local anesthetic (freezing) alone!
Once the bone has healed the crown or the appliance is attached to the implant to complete your smile. With the correct long term care, including regular dental hygiene and good homecare, the implant itself should last for many years to come. The crown or appliance may require replacement as it wears out.
Thanks to dental implants, patients are able to speak with confidence and enjoy their favorite foods while maintaining the bone and facial contours.
If you are missing teeth consider dental implants at Affinity Dental Sherwood Park. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.