Why Replace Missing Teeth?
Your teeth affect your whole body. When they’re healthy, you’re healthier too. A missing tooth can affect your bite, speech and eating choices. Generally, people will lose 25% of their supporting jawbone structure within the first year after tooth loss. Dental implants are more easily placed when teeth are first extracted because bone replacement becomes more complex as time passes. The great news? Implants act just like your natural teeth. They safeguard and preserve your bone structure, oral health and appearance. Your dentist and the implant surgeon will provide you with options so that you can make the most informed decision concerning tooth replacement.
Tooth Replacement Options
You can select from a number of different options to replace your missing teeth – from temporary to long-lasting solutions. A “Bridge,” a removable denture (“plate, partial, or false teeth”), or dental implants.
Age is not an absolute factor. However, smoking, bruxism (clenching/grinding the teeth), periodontitis (gum disease), steroid treatment, use of certain medications for osteoporosis or other bone disorders, diseases such as diabetes, and radiation therapy to the area, have been shown to lower the success rate of implant placement. An examination and X-rays of your jaw will be taken to evaluate whether they will accommodate implants. 3 dimensional x-rays may also be required to determine if other procedures are needed to place implants properly.
A fixed bridge is a connected set of replacement teeth. For support, it is cemented into position on top of the teeth adjacent to the empty space after they have been drilled down to accommodate the thickness of the bridge material. No surgery is needed to have a Bridge. Bridges generally last 10-20 years before needing to be replaced.
A fragile, temporary and inexpensive cosmetic solution is a removable plastic tooth with a plastic retainer, often referred to as a “flipper” because it easily flips in and out. This is used for transitional cosmetic purposes only, and will break if used to chew with.
Removable Partial Denture (RPD), or “A Partial”
A durable option is a removable partial denture cast in metal and plastic, or a resin material. It is held in place by wire clasps and other retentive components. Other people are not aware that a person has a partial denture. However, partial dentures must be removed at night, or for at least 6-8 hours per day, and people often complain of their bulk. Metal partials can be modified to add teeth if additional teeth ever need to be removed. A resin partial, is less bulky, has no metal components, and is flexible, but cannot be modified. No surgery is necessary to have a Partial. Partials generally last many decades depending on wear and dental health.
Complete Dentures (“Plates”)
The most common solution for people missing all teeth in one or both jaws are complete dentures. Some people adapt well to dentures. Others find them uncomfortable, even intolerable, because of differences in jaw size and shape. Upper dentures must completely cover the roof of the mouth, and lower dentures generally have poor retention. Dentures must be removed at night, or for at least 6-8 hours per day. At least two dental implants are generally recommended to aid in lower denture retention. Dentures generally last 10-20 years but will require maintenance and adjustments, and depending on wear may need to be replaced. Over time the jaw structure that supports the Dentures dissolves away leading to poor denture retention (loose fit).
Dental implants are a permanent tooth replacement solution, that does not rely on adjacent teeth and is not removed from the mouth. They form a foundation for tooth restorations. Implants support individual replacement teeth, bridges, or secure dentures in place. Dental implants are a permanent tooth replacement solution that cannot be removed by the patient. In some patients implants can be inserted at the time of tooth removal. In other circumstances, the process may require multiple procedures with healing periods of 3-6 months. Dental implants required a surgical procedure to be placed, and if there are bone or gum deficiencies, will require additional surgical procedures to prepare the foundation for the implant(s).
Why Select Dental Implants Over More Traditional Types Of Restorations?
There are several reasons: A dental bridge requires a sacrifice of the structure of surrounding teeth to allow the missing tooth/teeth to be attached. Removing a denture or a “partial” at night may be inconvenient, they are often considered quite bulky, and loose dentures can be uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Dental Implants Presentation
To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to dental implants are discussed.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are titanium screws that replace the root of a tooth, or act as a structural foundation for a dental prosthesis (bridge or denture). A natural tooth consists of a root and a crown. If you compare natural teeth to implant-supported replacement teeth, you’ll see they have the same basic parts. Both have a crown (the visible part used to chew food). Both have a root that holds the tooth securely under the gum and is anchored into the jaw. The difference is that the implant is made of titanium – the same time-tested material used by surgeons for artificial joints, plates and screws. When you lose a tooth, you lose both the root and the crown. To replace the tooth, the surgeon first replaces the root with a dental implant. The jaw bone then heals and grows directly onto the surface of the dental implant. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation or anchor for prosthetic teeth that is actually integrated into the bone. A support post (abutment) is then screwed into the implant and a new replacement tooth (crown) is cemented on top of the abutment. In many cases a temporary replacement tooth can be attached to the implant immediately after it is placed. If all of your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support the replacement teeth.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Fenton is often able to place immediate implants, and frequently have temporary restorations placed within 48 hours. Additionally, Dr. Fenton is often able to avoid extensive grafting procedures using less invasive, innovative techniques.
Esthetic Shield Contour Grafting
Dental implant placement is a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. Dr. Fenton performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary. The restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.
Bristol Oral Surgery & Implant Center
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