Despite our best efforts, most adults will experience some form of tooth loss – whether that is due to an accidental trip-and-fall, gum disease, or old age. Remedying this issue is not as bleak as it used to be. With advances in dental technology and advances in overall education, dental professionals are now equipped with the tools and expertise needed to help patients maintain a healthy smile, no matter the issue at hand. When it comes to losing a tooth, this is great news.
What Happens When You Lose a Tooth?
Teeth do more than just help you chew food. They are an important structure of the mouth and aid in keeping the mouth, jaw, and skull strong and healthy. The roots of the teeth not only keep teeth in place; they also stimulate the bone in the jaw and skull. When an adult tooth falls out, the root dies. Without the presence of a root, the bones that the root was once attached to weaken because they are not being stimulated by the root. If more teeth fall out, the jaw becomes weaker and weaker; this results in an individual being more susceptible to gum disease, various facial deformities, the decay of remaining teeth, and malocclusion. Another downfall to tooth loss is the effects it can have on those who have had braces in the past. When there is a space in the mouth, other teeth may shift to fill that particular space in. If this happens, the results of prior orthodontic treatment will have been for naught as the teeth will have a harder time retaining their straight appearance.
Benefits of Single Tooth Dental Implant
When it comes to tooth loss, many patients have two options at their disposal: a single-tooth implant or a bridge. Bridges, while less invasive, do not replace a tooth root. One or more surrounding teeth are used as supports that then have a crown attached to fill in the space. The process is not as long as the implant process, however, it does not offer up some of the benefits that single-tooth dental implants offer. Additionally, various complications like the receding of gums or bacteria build-up can arise over time with bridges. Implants, on the other hand, integrate with the jawbone. This is a massive benefit as the facial bones previously affected by tooth loss can still remain intact and healthy despite the prior loss of teeth. This is why is it so important to remember that the teeth serve multiple roles in the mouth. Without the root, you could be facing greater problems down the line. Single-tooth dental implants help a patient avoid those problems.
Acting as a long-term treatment for tooth loss, single-tooth dental implants are implanted gradually. The first phase of dental implants is the implantation of a titanium rod that is anchored into the jaw outfitted with a cover screw for protection. This particular process lasts around six months as the implant must fuse with the jaw; a process known as osseointegration. Once osseointegration is complete, a temporary crown replaces the protective covering. Once the gums surrounding the temporary crown grow and shape naturally, the temporary crown is replaced by a permanent crown. The crown is custom-made to mirror the tone and shape of the patient’s surrounding teeth. Usually, crowns feel incredibly natural and do not alter chewing or speaking.
There are some dental implants that do not require additional steps. However, this is an option that should be thoroughly discussed with your dentist as osseointegration plays a major role in the overall success of single-tooth dental implants. Providing that a patient keeps up with regular dental maintenance, the implanted rod should last for a lifetime and the permanent crown should last fifteen years or longer. Due to the length of the implantation process, it is important that patients care for their crowns as directed by their dentists. Potential complications like infection or the body rejecting the implant can occur. However, most patients merely report some mild discomfort that is usually treated with Ibuprofen and have no problems with returning to work the next day. Keeping up with brushing and flossing the area as directed by your oral surgeon and by seeing your dentist every six months are the best ways to ensure the longevity of a single-tooth dental implant.