Dental implants are an artificial replacement of missing teeth that are designed to look, feel and function like a natural tooth.
While it is apparent that a missing tooth can cause unsightly gaps and decrease in chewing efficiency, which could have profound psychological and social effects, there are many less evident or hidden consequences of tooth loss. If only single or couple of teeth are missing, usually opposing or adjacent teeth move into space, causing the shift in the normal position of teeth. Sometimes, this happens at a slow rate, and some of the adverse effects are not very apparent.
What are dental implants?
A natural tooth consists of two parts, a root and a crown. Dental Implants have the same two parts, a crown (the visible part used to chew food) and a root that holds the tooth securely under the gum. To replace a missing tooth with a dental implant, your dentist first places the root part into the bone. This part is made of Titanium; the same time tested material used by surgeons for artificial joints. Time is allowed for bone to heal and grow around the dental implant. The bone bonds with the Titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. A support post and a new replacement tooth(crown) are placed on the implant. In many cases, a temporary replacement tooth can be attached to the implant immediately after it is placed. Even, if all of your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support the replacement teeth with the help of dental implants.
Adverse Effects of Tooth Loss
The more adverse effect of tooth loss that many people do not realize is the decrease in the size of the jaw bone. Jaw bone needs constant stimulation from teeth to maintain its volume and quality. When a natural tooth is lost, the bone and gums that hold the tooth typically start decreasing in size and density. There is a 25% decrease in the width of bone during the first year after tooth loss.
As more teeth are lost, there can be an impairment in speaking ability, besides, decreased chewing efficiency. With the progressive loss of jaw bone, there is a decrease in distance from nose to chin, which could result in a collapse of the lower third of the face. The loss of tooth support causes the cheeks and lips to become hollow giving a sagged appearance.
If many teeth are missing, the jaw bone decreases in volume, making these individuals more prone to fracture. Back teeth support the height of the face. When multiple back teeth are missing, it could result in bite collapse, and all the support goes to front teeth.
Front teeth are not designed to provide support to the face, with excessive forces, there is increased wear of these teeth. Without teeth present, the tongue spreads into space, and the face collapses. Dental Implants could restore the chewing efficiency and prevent the loss of bone by providing a similar stimulus that is provided by natural teeth.