Why Replace Missing Teeth?
When you lose a tooth to trauma or extraction necessitated by excessive decay it can be tempting to not replace the tooth, especially if the missing tooth is a molar and not visible to others.
Beyond cosmetics, this is a bad idea for the overall health of your mouth. Below are a few reasons why you should replace removing your missing teeth:
- Your teeth remain in place due to pressure from the adjacent teeth. When a tooth is missing, the teeth on the sides of the gap tend to slide over into the gap. This creates problems with your bite and the alignment of your teeth.
- You don’t think about it, but chewing and biting create an enormous amount of energy. That energy transfers down through the teeth into the jawbone beneath them. That energy stimulates the jawbone to shed old cells and create new bone mass; this keeps the jawbone healthy and strong. When a tooth or a couple teeth are missing, the jawbone doesn’t receive that energy and it immediately begins to “resorb.” This deterioration is why people missing many teeth often have a sunken look as if they jaw were collapsing backwards.
- Missing teeth are embarrassing visually, and they can create whistling sounds when pronouncing certain words. Also, if you’re missing a molar, you may avoid eating certain foods, such as nuts, and that can create nutritional deficiencies.
We believe replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant is the superior, enduring solution. At Golden Dental Solutions in Golden, CO, Dr. Dallas Kenson has extensive training and experience in placing dental implants.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants actually get their name from the base of the prosthetic. The titanium “implant” is shaped like a screw. It is placed down into the hole formerly occupied by your natural tooth root. The jawbone then actually grows around the implant, making it a part of the jaw. A post is attached to the implant and a porcelain artificial tooth is attached to the post. Because the implant is anchored into the jaw permanently, your new replacement tooth feels, functions, and looks just like a natural tooth.
What are the advantages of dental implants?
- Dental implants behave exactly like a natural tooth, so the patient can eat any foods and chew normally.
- Unlike bridges, where adjacent “abutment teeth” need to be crowned to anchor the bridge holding the false tooth or teeth, implants stand alone.
- Implants keep adjacent teeth from moving.
- Implants are load-bearing teeth, so you don’t have to avoid chewing or biting with them. Plus, they transfer energy down into the jawbone just as natural teeth do.
- Implants have a 90 to 95% success rate and can last for decades, giving the patient back his or her smile and the ability to eat any foods.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
For a dental implant to successfully anchor into the jaw, the patient needs to have sufficient jawbone mass and density. As mentioned above, if you’ve been missing the tooth or teeth for some time, you may have suffered a loss of bone mass in the jaw. If that has happened, then there may not be adequate bone to support the implant. For these patients, Dr. Kenson can use bone grafting to build up the jaw to make it ready for an implant.
Otherwise, as long as you don’t have other oral health issues, such as gum disease, everyone is a great candidate for a dental implant.
How Are Dental Implants Placed?
Implants aren’t placed in a single appointment. They require this process:
- Consultation: The implant process begins with a consultation with Dr. Kenson, who performs a full oral exam and takes x-rays and a CT scan to determine your jawbone mass.
- Placement: Next the titanium implant is placed into hole formerly occupied by the tooth root. Dr. Kenson may have to drill a small hole into the jawbone to prepare it. The implant is shaped like a screw and is inserted in that fashion.
- Osseointegration: Now the patient simply waits three to six months as the jawbone naturally grows around and accepts the titanium implant.
- Abutment: When the jawbone has fully grown around the implant, a small metal post, called an abutment, is attached to the implant and the gum tissue is allowed to heal for around six weeks.
- Placing the crown: The final step is to place a custom-made porcelain crown onto the abutment. The crown is made to match the color and shape of the surrounding teeth so, once placed, it fits in naturally.
How to Care For/Maintain Your Dental Implants
Because your implant is a part of your jaw, it behaves exactly like a natural tooth, and your home hygiene reflects that. Daily brushing and flossing are all that is needed. Patients with dental implants should be on top of setting up their twice-yearly professional cleanings. It is important to maintain the implant and ensure that the gums are well adjusted to the implant.
When Can I Return to a Normal Diet After Implant Placement?
During the healing of the gums after the implant placement and after the abutment placement, you will need to be careful where the gums are healing. You need to eat a soft diet for a few days, but then can return to a normal diet chewing only on the opposite side. We’ll give you full instructions on how to care for your gums during these times.
Once Dr. Kenson places the porcelain crown/artificial tooth you’re good to go. You can go eat whatever you want immediately. Your new dental implant will allow you to chew and bite just as you would with a natural tooth.
What Do Dental Implants Look Like?
The false tooth/crown that is attached to the post is made of dental porcelain. It is created to match the natural tooth that was in that position of the mouth. Porcelain has the same translucence as natural tooth enamel in the way it absorbs some light and reflects some light. This will make your dental implant indistinguishable from the surrounding natural teeth.
Are Dental Implants Permanent?
Once they are fully integrated into your jawbone, dental implants are incredibly strong and durable. They are a part of your jaw. As long as you don’t develop gum disease and subsequent jawbone loss down the road, your dental implant can last for decades, often for the life of the patient. Also, even if your porcelain crown breaks or needs replacement, a new artificial tooth is simply attached to the post on the implant, a simple process.
Are Dental Implants Painful?
People assume there is a good deal of pain with the implant procedure, but this isn’t the case. Thanks to anesthesia, there is not any pain during the procedure phases. Afterwards, there is some discomfort when the gums recover after placement of the implant and again when the gums heal after the post is placed, but this is manageable with over-the-counter pain medication.
Otherwise, the main effect is some aching when the implant is placed. Most patients equate the aching to having a tooth extracted or having a root canal.
Alternative Treatments for Missing Teeth
Some patients missing more than one or two teeth may not want to go with a series of dental implants. In these cases, a dental bridge can be used to replace the teeth. A bridge places crowns on the healthy teeth on each side of the gap. These crowns are then connected to the false teeth serving as replacement teeth. Bridges are not as strong as implants, and they usually have a lifespan of 10-20 years. For an even longer series of missing teeth, a patient can use a partial denture. If possible, we like to anchor these partial dentures with an implant or two.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are interested in dental implants and would like to see if you are a good candidate, call (303) 277-9600 to schedule a consultation. Our practice serves patients from Denver, Golden and surrounding areas.