Losing your teeth is one of the more tragic outcomes of neglecting your oral health. While it is possible that a tooth can just as easily be lost as a result of injury, in the vast majority of cases, advanced gum disease (periodontitis) is the cause. Periodontitis is the second stage of gum disease, and is more serious and difficult to treat than gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, which can be reversed with a deep cleaning from your dentist, and a reassessment of your oral hygiene routine (and committing to be more disciplined).
Though your tooth has fallen out (or was extracted by an oral surgeon), that isn’t the end of your trouble. The longer you go without addressing your missing tooth, i.e. replacing it, the worse your oral health will become. Eventually, you’ll notice a few detrimental changes in a number of places.
- Chewing food will become more difficult and painful
- Speaking will be severely impaired
- Changes to the shape of your face (usually a “caved in” look)
- Misalignment of your jaws and remaining teeth (the gap created by a missing tooth provides space for your teeth that are left to move out of position)
- Increased chance for infection and even more lost teeth; your remaining teeth will sustain severe damage due to misalignment
- Continued loss of bone density in your jaw in the area where the tooth was lost
In our Butte, MT dental practice, we have the dental implant solutions that will give you your smile, your health, and your life back. Whether you have only recently lost a tooth/teeth, or if you’ve been living with the pain and embarrassment caused by tooth loss for years, or even if you’re simply dissatisfied with the performance of more conventional fixes for lost teeth (dentures and dental bridges), dental implants are by far the best solution.
Dentures and Bridges Vs. Dental Implants
Dentures and bridges have long been the only solution available to those who have lost one or more teeth. It should be noted here that dentures and bridges are still effective for certain patients, especially those who for one reason or another are not ideal candidates for the implant procedure. However, if you can get them (and most can), dental implants are your best value: virtually zero compromise in performance, and aesthetically they are closer to your natural teeth than anything else available. Dentures and bridges have some serious stumbling blocks that make them a second-tier treatment for missing teeth.
Dentures vs. Implants
Dentures are a kind of prosthetic, and most people are generally familiar with them. You’ve probably seen advertisements on television throughout the years for denture adhesives (Florence Henderson? Does that name ring a bell?), but those adhesives only provide supplemental support to keep your dentures in place. Dentures are custom designed to fit exactly in your mouth, and your mouth only. Your dentures depend heavily on how they interact with your oral tissues and remaining teeth, which means that how they fit is critical to their proper functioning (which isn’t that great; dentures can give you back only about 10% to 20% of your bite strength, which determines what kind of foods you can eat and how well you’re understood when you speak).
The problem with dentures and their fit is three-fold:
A Fit Found Is Easily Lost
One, the fit of dentures can be lost very easily, and in a lot of cases it doesn’t actually have anything to do with the dentures themselves. Our bodies aren’t static, they’re in a constant state of change, and your oral cavity (your mouth, jaws, etc.) is no exception. Even a small change in the shape of your oral cavity can make your custom made dentures nearly worthless, because your dentures are designed specifically to how your mouth looked at one point in time. One thing that surprises many patients: weight loss, which is generally a positive (unless its caused by health problems), can cause drastic changes in the shape and condition of your mouth.
Not Very Funny, Actually
Two, when your dentures lose their fit (it’s not a matter of if but when), it will eventually cause you some embarrassment and humiliation. That’s because dentures with a bad fit tend to move in your mouth. That’s annoying first of all; you’ll be constantly readjusting them because they’re uncomfortable. It can get embarrassing when they slip enough out of place to actually fall out of your mouth entirely! This happens so often it’s become a lame, hacky joke on television and in movies (if there’s a grandma in it, you can almost bet she’s going to lose her dentures before the film or show ends). Slipping and sliding dentures also make a loud, annoying clicking sound when you talk, yawn, eat, or laugh; any time you need to “open wide”.
Dentures that lose their fit must be replaced, and you’ll replace them a lot. This throws a bit of a wrench in the idea that many patients have that dentures are the “cheapest option” – one set at a time, perhaps, but if you have to buy the same product over and over again, are you really getting the best deal?
Infections and Disease
Dentures that move are also a source of infection and disease. All that movement creates a lot of rubbing and friction between the faulty dentures and your oral tissues and teeth that it leans on to stay in place. This will create mouth sores, which are great ways for bacteria to get inside and cause serious diseases in your oral cavity and beyond.
Bridges Too Far?
Dental bridges are a little better than dentures: they’re more permanent, and don’t need to come out for cleaning. However, unlike dental implants, they need to be regularly replaced. Dental bridges are “lab tested” to last from seven to ten years, but most people find they need replacing after only five.
They also increase your chance of developing a serious infection, because getting a bridge (which is an artificial tooth or set of teeth supported by a pair of crowns) usually requires the filing down of healthy teeth so that the bridge will fit where it is needed. That eliminates enamel, which is your best defense against tooth infections and decay, and it doesn’t come back.
Dental Implants, On The Other Hand
Dental implants avoid all those problems. They don’t move or slip out of place, nor does placing them require the removal of precious enamel. Furthermore, they’re permanent in the truest sense of the word: a well-placed dental implant under normal conditions will last your entire life!
Also, dental implants can give you at least 90% of your bite strength, and require no more maintenance than natural teeth!