Millions of Americans will lose one or more teeth, yearly – primarily due to some combination of tooth decay, gingivitis, and physical trauma. Despite the prevalence of dentists and dental care, it’s still quite common for patients of all ages to suffer tooth loss of one or more teeth. While brushing, flossing, and routine professional cleanings are very effective at combating tooth decay and gingivitis, it is unfortunately quite common for patients to neglect professional cleaning, or otherwise allow tooth decay to advance to a point where simple fillings are insufficient, and entire teeth need to be removed.
Whether it be from injury, decay, or gum disease, once a tooth root is damaged, it becomes very difficult to save the tooth, or to artificially cap it with a synthetic cap such as a crown. Because crowns rely on the tooth’s root to provide strength, a damaged root often means that the full tooth must be removed. For multiple tooth loss, procedures such as dentures and bridges provide synthetic tooth-like replacements. While dentures are removable, bridges are semi-permanent – typically cemented to teeth on either side of the missing tooth/teeth. However, recently dentists have another permanent solution that has a number of benefits over dentures and bridges: implants.
In cases where the tooth must be removed, patients are typically left with a handful of options: either create fake teeth that cover the area (such as with dental bridges or dentures), or replace the tooth with a combination of synthetic root and crown using a dental implant.
While dentures and bridges have their advantages and disadvantages, implants are often recommended by dentists for a variety of reasons:
– They very closely match the appearance of natural teeth
– They allow for natural eating, drinking, and speaking
– They’re typically very comfortable, with most patients feeling the implant to be nearly indistinguishable from a normal tooth
– Implants are quite durable, often lasting decades
Dental implants are replacement tooth roots, often made of titanium, and fixed permanently into the bone of the tooth socket. The dentist then attaches a crown – often porcelain or ceramic above the titanium post, providing a structure that looks and feels almost exactly the same as a normal tooth, but without any natural tooth material. The implant can be brushed and flossed as if it were a normal tooth, but the crown surface is impervious to decay, and when properly installed, the titanium post will last for decades.
The actual implant procedure typically takes a number of visits. Typically a small titanium post is implanted into the bone socket where the tooth was removed, and the jawbone is allowed to heal around it. Six to twelve weeks later, a small post is attached to that titanium root, and the dentist creates a model for a crown to be placed onto that second post. That crown, once attached, will provide a nearly permanent replacement tooth, allowing the patient to brush, floss, eat, drink, and speak normally, without worrying about dentures coming loose, or requiring the extra hygiene procedures associated with dental bridges.
If you have a missing or damaged tooth, and you feel an implant may be an appropriate solution, speak with Dr. Middleton. While the procedure does take a number of visits, it has a high success rate and can last many decades.
For more information on your dental implants call Riverside dentist Dr. Gerald Middleton at 951-688-3442. Visit our website for special offers, updates and to make an appointment, www.gmdental.com.
Accepting patients from Riverside, Norco, Ontario, Murrieta, Fontana and surrounding communities.