When you lose a single tooth, you might not think it is that much of a big deal, especially if the tooth came from the back of your mouth out of view. You may choose to ignore it. After all, it is not affecting your appearance. However, even one lost tooth can have a serious impact on your mouth and your life. Traditionally, a single missing tooth has been replaced with a fixed bridge. A bridge is a dental restoration that consists of a single replacement tooth set between two crowns, which anchor on to the adjacent healthy teeth for support. While still used today, bridges do have their disadvantages, particularly their inability to maintain the strength of your jaw. At Mid Valley Family Dental, we provide an alternative to traditional bridges, dental implants.
Effects of Tooth Loss
Even if you only lose one tooth, whether, from tooth decay, gum disease or oral trauma, the event has several serious effects.
- Difficulty eating. Chewing becomes more challenging. When you cannot effectively chew your food, this can also lead to malnutrition.
- Increased risk for cavities and gum disease. Food can get stuck in the space and can be harder to keep clean.
- Difficulty speaking. Losing a tooth can cause a lisp or otherwise make it more difficult to speak properly.
- Your smile suffers. Depending upon the location of the tooth, your smile may be affected. This can decrease your confidence as well.
- Loss of bone mass in the jaw. When you lose a tooth, the stimulation that tooth provided the jawbone is lost. This leads to a weakening of your jawbone. It begins to change shape, which can lead to your other teeth shifting out of alignment.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a replacement for a missing tooth that involves the use of a titanium post that is surgically implanted into the jawbone. As you heal, the bone fuses to the post, integrating it into the bone, a process known as osseointegration. Once you have fully healed, the implant is stable and secure in its position. It provides support for a ceramic crown, which takes the place of the visible surface of your missing tooth, restoring the functions of that tooth and the quality of your smile.
Why Replace a Tooth with Dental Implants?
There are several benefits to the use of dental implants to replace missing teeth.
- They look, feel and even function just like your natural teeth.
- They provide greater comfort.
- Your crown is held securely in place.
- The adjacent healthy teeth do not need to be prepared for crowns. This avoids the need to alter perfectly healthy teeth.
- ;The post stimulates the jawbone like the root of a natural tooth, preventing bone loss in the jaw.
How is an Implant Placed?
Your implant requires a surgical procedure to be placed. After a local anesthetic and sedation, a small incision is made in the gum tissue. We then drill a hole into your jawbone and place the implant inside. Finally, we suture your gums closed and place a temporary crown on the implant. This allows you to function while you heal.
As you heal from surgery, the bone fuses with the implant. This does not occur all at once. It can take several weeks to heal fully. We monitor you closely to make sure the implant is integrating properly and that there are no complications. Once you have fully healed, we take an impression of your mouth. The impression is sent to a dental lab, where your permanent crown is created. When it is finished, we secure the crown on to the implant with a small screw.
Losing even just one tooth, even if it cannot be seen when you smile, can significantly impact your life. Dental implants provide an alternative to traditional treatment and help to preserve the strength and shape of your jaw. For more information, and to find out if you are a candidate for dental implants, call Mid Valley Family Dental today at 503-902-1622.