How dental implants can help restore your smile.
Let’s face it—as an adult, a hole in your smile doesn’t quite have the same adorable appeal as it does for that seven-year-old with the missing tooth. Even the tooth fairy doesn’t have the good grace to pay us a courtesy visit on her nightly runs!
Instead, we are left awkwardly hiding our “new” smile while wondering if and how to fill this gap. Here’s why dental implants are the best treatment for a missing tooth and even multiple missing teeth.
Treating a missing tooth is more than just aesthetic.
Each one of your teeth has a very important role to play in maintaining not just your oral health but your overall bodily health as well. In fact, they also do far more than just allow you to bite into and chew food. Each one of your teeth is a support system for those beside it as well as the tooth either directly above or below it. Your teeth help to keep their neighbors securely in place—preventing them from migrating, twisting, and wiggling—all of which would result in a painful bite.
The roots of your teeth have an important role to play too. They may be hidden below the gumline, but they determine the appearance of your facial structure. More specifically, they help to maintain the density of your jawbones. Through regular activities like talking and chewing, pressure is applied to the surface of your teeth and sent down to the roots. This pressure is a signal to your body to continue maintaining and strengthening the cells that make up your jawbones.
Without this “signal,” your body no longer maintains the cells of the structural tissue that once supported your now-missing tooth. The jawbone begins to shrink in size—affecting the shape of your face and compromising the stability of surrounding teeth. Without treatment, this, in turn, creates a domino effect of pain, infection, and tooth loss.
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Periodontal therapy is the treatment of gum disease—professionally known as periodontitis.
Did you know gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults? Not so fun fact: it also affects 50% of the adult population here in the United States.
That’s a high chance of already having this ruthlessly stubborn bacterial infection. Periodontal therapy, paired with diligent at-home care, is critical in keeping gum disease from returning. Depending on the severity of infection, you may first require surgical measures to remove infected tissue deep below the gum line.
All patients with periodontitis will require regular periodontal therapy appointments for deep cleaning. Your dental team will carefully remove plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth and the pockets that have formed below the gum line through a process called scaling. It is very important to remove this bacteria-carrying gunk before it has the chance to turn into another infection. Some patients may also need to undergo root planing to help the gums successfully reattach themselves to the tooth’s surface. Once snug against your tooth, your gum tissue can go about its regular duties, guarding your mouth against infection by keeping plaque and bacteria out.
We offer Perio Protect Trays as a comfortable treatment for at home.
Here at Ada Smile Place, we offer our patients Perio Protect Trays as a safe, comfortable at-home treatment option to continue the fight against infection. A small amount of prescription medicine is applied to a custom-fit tray and worn for a few minutes each day. This allows the medicine to penetrate below the gum line and into those hard-to-get areas that brushing and flossing can’t. Perio Protect Trays can decrease the chances of needing future surgical treatment.
Dental implants: What you need to know.
Unlike other treatment options for a missing tooth, dental implants restore up to 90% of a tooth’s dental function. This makes them not just a great option for those missing a single tooth, but also for those who may be missing several or all of their teeth. Implants can support a bridge as well as dentures—strategically, and securely, providing dental function throughout the mouth.
This is possible thanks to a surgical-steel anchor that is placed within the jaw where the natural tooth once resided. This anchor, which looks much like a screw, takes on the role of the root of a tooth. Once healed and fully integrated, it is able to maintain jawbone density and support neighboring teeth much like its predecessor once did.
After the post is placed and integrated with the bone tissue, an abutment can be placed. If the post is like a screw, you can think of the abutment as a bit like the nut. A small incision is made into the gum tissue to access the implant post. The abutment is then carefully screwed onto the post where it will securely sit above the gum line. Your dentist will then take an impression of your bite to create a custom crown that will fit in seamlessly as a part of your natural smile.
Implants look and feel natural.
Your impression will be sent to a lab where your crown will be expertly crafted. Once the office has received the crown, the team will schedule an appointment for it to be placed. While placing your crown over the abutment your dentist will make any necessary fine-tune changes to its shape to ensure a virtually perfect fit.
After placement, you can care for the new addition to your smile just as you do your natural teeth. Dental prosthetics are strong, but they are not infallible. Brush morning and night to remove food particles, plaque, and harmful bacteria. You will also want to floss once a day to clean between teeth where a brush can’t reach. Regularly scheduled dental appointments are also an important part of your preventative care—allowing your dental team to closely monitor you for early signs of gum disease and dental caries.
Dental implants: The healing process.
Dental implants are an effective multi-step process for treating missing teeth.
Before treatment can begin, a patient must be free from infection and have adequate bone tissue to support an implant. If a tooth was lost due to gum disease and infection was severe, the bone density may have been compromised. Depending on the severity, a bone graft may be able to restore density and the ability to effectively support an implant. If this is the case, the bone graft procedure will need to take place first, and adequate healing time will need to be allowed before proceeding. Healing time for a bone graft is typically between four to six months.
Placement of the implant post itself takes around an hour or two with heal time varying depending on where in the mouth the procedure is done. An implant placed in the lower jaw typically requires four to five months to heal, while those in the upper jaw take six to seven months. Pain medication and antibiotics may be prescribed for the weeks following the procedure.
Placement of the abutment is relatively quick due to only requiring a small incision to be made, and the abutment itself simply screwed securely to the post. Heal time can be expected to last around just two weeks.
With proper healing time and regular, diligent oral care habits, a dental implant can give you a happy and healthy smile for life. If you have questions about how a dental implant can improve your oral health or if you’re ready to start the journey to a more confident smile, give us a call or make an appointment using our online form.