At Niles Family Dentistry, we want all of our patients to have healthy, beautiful teeth. However, oral health issues such as gum disease or tooth decay sometimes make dental implants a necessity. Dental implants are customized implant teeth that take the place of missing teeth. An implant can strengthen and fortify the area of the missing tooth and can last for many years. The best part is that an implant looks just like your natural tooth and blends right in with your smile. Learn why dental implants are sometimes necessary and what the process of receiving one is like.
Tooth Loss Is a Common Occurrence
You may or may not know someone who has lost a tooth. In many parts of the world, tooth loss is common. In some countries, the teeth are simply pulled out if there is tooth decay or some other problem. For many, there is not an option to help restore their smiles. Tooth decay and gum disease are some of the most common culprits that lead to tooth loss. Tooth decay is better known as “dental caries”, or “cavities”. In fact, tooth decay is the most prevalent chronic disease in children and adults in the United States and worldwide.
A healthy adult mouth should have 32 teeth. Some people only have 28 if they don’t have their 4 wisdom teeth or if those teeth are removed. You can have a healthy mouth if you are one of the patients without their wisdom teeth, as this is normal. The American College of Prosthodontists reports that there are over 120 million people in the United States that are missing 1 or more teeth. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that the average adult between the ages of 20 and 64 only have an average of 25 teeth. That percentage increases with age.
Why Do You Need a Dental Implant?
For patients who are missing a tooth, we generally evaluate their oral health and see if they are good candidates for a dental implant. If you lose a tooth, the jawbone and gums in that area of the mouth slowly begin to grow weaker. This weakness can spread to surrounding teeth, causing other teeth to fall out. In some cases, an opposing tooth will grow longer to try to close the space up. One missing tooth can lead to multiple missing teeth and so on, so you want a dental implant if you’ve lost a tooth. It’s the best way to keep your smile intact.
We simply install a metal post in the jawbone where a tooth was lost. This post will heal into the jaw and gums, where we will then attach a custom-made tooth on top. This tooth will blend in with your mouth and add functionality and support for 1-2 decades.
Missing Multiple Teeth
What if you are missing multiple teeth? There are an estimated 36 million people in the United States that are missing all of their teeth. Millions are missing more than one. As long as the jawbone is strong enough, we can give you dental implants all over your mouth if need be. However, there are other options if you have several teeth missing in a row. One is called a dental bridge, and it is similar to an implant, but without all the posts.
A bridge is a method to fill the space created by missing teeth that may be used if the missing teeth cannot be replaced with dental implants. We also use a bridge because it is a better method to replace multiple teeth that are all in a row. We use a similar process to installing a dental implant by placing a metal post in the jawbone where the first missing tooth is. We then place another metal post where the last missing tooth is. Those two posts will heal in the jaw, and then a series of teeth will “bridge” the gap where the teeth are missing. Hence, the reason this is called a “bridge”.
Dentures Replace All the Teeth
If you are part of the 36 million people that are missing all of their teeth, then dentures are an option for you! Dentures are actually quite common with our elderly patients, as people have a higher risk for losing their teeth as they age. About 1 in 4 patients over age 74 are missing all of their natural teeth. Gum disease also becomes more severe over time in the patients who have it and don’t treat it, which leads to tooth loss on a much greater scale.
If you’ve lost most or all your teeth, you can choose between partial and full dentures. A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Partial dentures are for patients who have lost most of their teeth, but not quite all. The dentures fill in all the gaps in a patient’s smile. Complete dentures are used to replace all of the teeth in one or both arches (upper and lower) of the mouth. If you have extensive tooth loss, dentures are one of the best ways to improve your smile.
Save Your Smile Today
When you invest in a dental implant, you are investing in your smile and your oral health for years to come. Missing just one tooth can seriously damage and weaken your oral health over time. Modern technology allows us to save your smile with a dental implant. If you have lost a tooth, or even more than one, call our Niles Family Dentistry office today at (303) 652-0400 and see what we can do to restore your smile once more!