Tooth loss is a significant problem for many adults, and though it occurs often, the truth is that losing even a single tooth can have devastating consequences for your smile. If you’re already missing one or more teeth, then you may be familiar with the feeling of wanting to hide your smile to conceal its discrepancy. As Dr. Fondriest explains, however, embarrassment may be the least of your worries if you prolong replacing your lost teeth. With one or more dental implants, your dentist can replace the teeth you’ve lost, including their roots, to restore your smile’s beauty and ability to function. As prosthetic teeth roots, dental implants can also help stop the jawbone destruction that typically follows tooth loss.
Reasons for Permanent Tooth Loss
A “permanent” or adult tooth can be lost for a number of reasons, the most common of which is severe gum disease, or periodontitis. As the disease progresses through your gums, it erodes the soft tissue and eventually the jawbone underneath it, essentially destroying the foundation that supports your teeth. Extreme tooth decay can consume the tooth entirely if allowed to run rampant, and accidental trauma can damage the periodontal tissues that hold the tooth’s root in its socket. Regardless of its cause, a lost tooth can damage more than your pride; it can upset the balance of your smile, as well as impact the nutrient supply to your jawbone.
The Effects of Missing Teeth Roots
A full set of teeth is required for your mouth to evenly distribute the pressure of your bite. When one or more teeth are missing, your bite’s balance is thrown off, and remaining teeth can be subjected to additional pressure to take up the slack. Over time, the strain can damage your teeth, as well as the joints and muscles that control your jaw’s movement.
The roots of your teeth, which are embedded in your jawbone, help keep your teeth strong and steady, and they help maintain a steady nutrient supply to the jawbone when stimulated by biting and chewing. The loss of your teeth’s roots can result in a diminished supply of essential nutrients, and your jawbone can deteriorate from the deficiency. Jawbone deterioration occurs more quickly the more teeth you’ve lost, and if left unchecked, it can render your jawbone too weak to support your remaining teeth, which may be lost as well.
What’s a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a small, titanium root device that’s surgically inserted into your jawbone, where your teeth’s roots once rested. The titanium is biocompatible, and as your jawbone heals, it fuses to the implant, securing it in place as though it were a natural, healthy tooth root. Once the jawbone is healed, an appropriate dental prosthesis (i.e., dental crown, bridge, or denture) can be affixed to the implant(s) for unmatched stability. The beauty of dental implants is that they can replace any number of lost teeth, from one to all of them. If you already wear a dental bridge or denture, you may still be able to upgrade your current prosthetic with the addition of dental implants.
The Science of Dental Implants & Jawbone Preservation
The most immediately noticeable benefit of dental implants is the improved security and comfort provided by embedded roots. For the long-term integrity of your smile, implants also help restore the stimulation that was lost along with your natural teeth roots and preserve your jawbone’s integrity. For dental implants to succeed, however, you must have sufficient jawbone density to fuse to the implant and support it for life. Depending on how long it’s been since you’ve lost your teeth what caused your tooth loss (like severe gum disease), you may require a bone graft to reinforce your jawbone’s structure before dental implants can be placed.
Learn more about replacing missing tooth roots
Aside from providing expert implant and cosmetic dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds highly-respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is a former Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. At Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from Chicago and all surrounding communities. To schedule your consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.