Why Replacing Missing Teeth With Dental Implants Offers More Than Just a Pretty Smile

Why Replacing Missing Teeth With Dental Implants Offers More Than Just a Pretty Smile

Losing a permanent tooth is traumatic, but it isn’t rare: the CDC estimates that about half of men and women under age 65 have lost at least one tooth. When you think about tooth replacement, your primary concern is probably aesthetic. You want to be able to smile fully and unselfconsciously again.

However, tooth replacement is much more than just an aesthetic concern. Missing teeth can cause functional problems that could impair your health.

Keep your other teeth in alignment

Even if you’re missing a tooth far in the back of your mouth — where you figure no one will notice — replacing the tooth is essential to preserving the health of your other teeth. Your teeth are designed to balance against one another. When a tooth goes missing, the other teeth begin to shift out of alignment.

The teeth around your missing tooth can start to twist and rotate. They may even fall sideways into the gap.

The teeth on the opposite side of your mouth can be affected, too. Since your missing tooth isn’t exerting pressure on your gum anymore and isn’t there to help chew your food, the teeth on the other side start to compensate. They can undergo a process called super eruption where they start to grow toward your missing tooth.

Missing teeth threaten your health

Misaligned or rotated teeth prevent you from adequately chewing and breaking apart your food. Poorly masticated food can lead to digestive problems.

Twisted, rotated, and crowded teeth are also more susceptible to decay. Without a tooth for protection, your gums are at risk for infection. The bacteria that cause cavities and infections can seep into your bloodstream, triggering a life-threatening condition known as sepsis.

TMJ and other jaw dysfunction

Because you naturally try to compensate for your missing teeth when chewing, your bite becomes uneven. This imbalance can stress your jaw, leading to popping, pain, problems opening your mouth, and temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).  

Your natural teeth also put pressure on your jawbone, so that it continues to produce new osteoclasts (bone cells). When a tooth goes missing, so does that pressure. Your jawbone stops replacing dead bone cells and, eventually, your jawbone erodes.

When your jawbone recedes, your face sinks in, too. That’s why men and women without teeth have a haggard, sagging, and shrunken appearance to their lower face.

The next best thing to a natural tooth

Now that you know about how many functions a natural tooth performs, it’s clear why most tooth-replacement systems, such as dentures and bridges, are inadequate. While they can restore the look and alignment of your smile, they don’t act like real teeth.

The only form of tooth replacement that gives you the next best thing to your natural tooth is a dental implant. Dental implants mimic both the look and function of real teeth, including keeping your other teeth in alignment and prompting your jawbone to continually renew itself.

It’s all there, from the crown to the “root”

A dental implant comprises two main pieces: the crown, which is the false tooth made of composite material or porcelain; and the implant, a titanium post that’s surgically placed into your jawbone to act like a new root. These two pieces are joined by a third piece — an abutment — that holds the crown in place on the post.

Dr. Emanuela Alexandroni, a dental implant specialist in Brea, California, custom designs your dental implant, so that it perfectly fits in with your natural teeth. She takes impressions and digital images that are sent to a dental lab. She also carefully matches the color of your implant to your natural teeth.

Getting dental implants is a process that occurs in stages. Because the implant consists of an artificial root that will act like your real tooth root, it must be inserted into your bone and allowed to heal.

Your jawbone may take up to five or six months to completely fuse to your new “root.”  During that time, Dr. Alexandroni protects the implant with a temporary crown.

No one can tell, not even you

After Dr. Alexandroni fits and cements your permanent crown,  you’ll feel like you have a natural tooth again. While you might have a slight adjustment period, soon you’ll forget you were ever missing a tooth.

You take care of your dental implant the same way your care for the rest of your teeth. Brush your teeth and implant at least twice a day and floss at least once.

Although your implant is stain-resistant, it’s important to still see Dr. Alexandroni at least twice a year for a professional cleaning. At that time, she ensures the integrity of your implant and checks the health of your other teeth, gums, and jawbone.

You can replace one tooth, several teeth, or all of your teeth with dental implants. Call Dr. Alexandroni today to get started. Phone her friendly office staff or book your appointment online.

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