Accidents happen, and sometimes life gets in the way of certain personal responsibilities. Keeping your oral health is certainly not immune to this. There are as many reasons as there are people for why they neglect their teeth and their oral health, but the outcome is always the same: lost teeth!
Missing teeth are unattractive and affect how people interact with you. Teeth are critical to your appearance, not just in terms of your smile. If you’re missing one or more teeth (the nationwide average among adults is 3 teeth that are either missing or soon to be lost, due to disease or misfortune), your dental alignment is thrown off, resulting in dramatic changes to the shape of your face (the “collapsed flan” look) and serious damage (chips, cracks and fractures) to the teeth you still have.
It used to be that there were only two ways to treat a missing tooth (or teeth, as the case may be): you could get dentures, or a dental bridge. Both of these have major drawbacks, but you pretty much had to deal with them because the consequences of missing teeth that aren’t replaced are still much worse than the drawbacks.
Today, we have a third option: dental implants. 1st in Smiles (in Plano, TX) is proud to offer its patients the latest in dental treatments.
Dental Implants: A One-Time Fix For Missing Teeth
Dental implants are superior to dentures and dental bridges because they are permanent; in fact, with good cleaning habits and keeping regular dental appointments, a dental implant can last decades, even a lifetime! Dental implants are the closest thing to your natural teeth that dental technology has ever produced. Dental implants are permanent because they are surgically placed in your mouth and are embedded directly in the jawbone.
We offer several kinds of dental implants to meet your needs; we’ll cover the specifics of each later. While there are differences between types of dental implants, all implants include these basic components: an anchor, an abutment, and a crown.
The anchor is the part of the implant that is actually surgically placed in your mouth. Anchors are posts and are threaded like a screw. They’re usually made of titanium, which is ideal not only because of its great strength and durability, but because titanium is biocompatible. Simply, this means that your body’s immune system doesn’t mind that the anchor is there because it is made of titanium. After a small incision in the gums is made, the anchor is driven into the jawbone, giving it a strong hold.
Because titanium is biocompatible, that hold gets stronger over the course of several months as the anchor undergoes a process called osseointegration: the bone fuses to the anchor, holding it tightly in place.
The abutment is the connector component of a dental implant. Depending on the actual hardware your dentist recommends for you, the abutment connects the crown to the anchor either with a powerful adhesive, or the crown can be mechanically attached (“screwed on”).
Finally, the crown is the artificial tooth that replaces the one that is missing. A crown can be made of a variety of durable materials that enable them to do the job of grinding and chewing food, as well as maintaining the shape and appearance of your face as well as the alignment of your jaw. Crowns are also designed to look exactly like your natural teeth. If you have a dental implant, nobody has to know (unless you tell them).
Dental Implant Options at 1st in Smiles
We offer a number of implant options; depending on your needs and the condition of your oral health, we’ll recommend the best solution for you. Besides the standard or “traditional” dental implant that we just described, we have:
Mini Dental Implants:
Mini dental implants are usually for those who have narrow jawbones, or they have insufficient bone density (more on that later). Mini dental implants differ from standard implants in that they don’t have threading. Mini dental implants are also used in…
Implant Supported Dentures:
Implant Supported Dentures are a good option for those who don’t have the ideal level of oral health, but can still accept mini dental implants. Implant supported dentures, just like conventional dentures, can replace many teeth at once. However, because they are “snapped on” and held in place by the implants, they don’t slip and slide (which is why dentures can be very inconvenient and uncomfortable to wear).
All-on-Four & All-on-Six
All-on-Four dental implants and All-on-Six implants are a solution for patients missing several, or even all of their teeth. Instead of individual implants replacing individual missing teeth, an “arch” of artificial teeth (i.e. a whole row of teeth, either the top or bottom) is held in place with implants: in the case of All-on-Four, four implants are used. For All-on-Six, six implants are used. Your oral health and other factors will play a role in determining which (All-on-Four or All-on-Six) is best for you.
Can Anyone Get Dental Implants?
Unfortunately, no, not all patients with missing teeth are good candidates for dental implants. Dental implants require sufficient bone density in the jaw, which can be degraded by disease (particularly periodontal or gum disease). To undergo dental implant treatment, your oral health will need to be restored first; this can sometimes include
A bone graft: A procedure that involves transplanting a small piece of bone from elsewhere in your body to your jaw so that it can accept implants properly, or
A sinus lift: A procedure in which the upper jaw gets more bone for implantation at the cost of a small amount of the volume in your sinus cavity.
In addition to good oral health, you must be in good general health (to avoid complications during the recovery and healing process) and be old enough that your teeth and jaws have stopped growing. Because dental implants are placed surgically, you must also be able to tolerate anesthesia. It is also highly recommended that you quit smoking, because smoking retards the healing process required to ensure the long term success of your implant.
Don’t Let Missing or Lost Teeth Define Your Appearance and Who You Are!
If you have missing teeth and would like to learn more about dental implant options, call 1st in Smiles by dialing 972-905-9266 now!