Even one missing tooth can cause embarrassment and deteriorate your oral health. People with missing teeth often refuse to smile or hold a hand over their mouth to prevent humiliation. The missing tooth can cause a myriad of problems, including bone loss, a shifting bite, and food impaction. A dental implant is the best way to replace a missing tooth, and is a permanent solution that can last a lifetime. These restorations look and feel so much like natural teeth, you may forget which tooth is real and which one is an implant! At our Scottsdale dental office, Dr. Melander restores dental implants with lifelike crowns and bridges.
What is a dental implant?
Dental implants have several different parts, the most important of which are the implant and the crown. Implants are made of titanium, a biocompatible material that isn’t rejected by the body. When placed in the bone, the implant functions like a tooth root. The crown is then connected to the implant, restoring the esthetics and chewing function of the tooth.
Dental Implant Procedure
Our patients are referred to a periodontist for the placement of the implant. Many of our patients chose AZ Perio, a locally owned group of periodontists. The periodontist will place the implant in the bone, often at the time of tooth extraction. For the next several months, the implant is allowed to osseointegrate without the stress of a permanent implant crown. Osseointegration is the process by which bone integrates with the surface of the implant, creating a solid and stable connection.
Placing the restoration onto the implant is done by Dr. Melander at Enamor Dentistry. If esthetics are a concern during the osseointegration stage, patients can have a temporary implant crown placed. This temporary is purely for esthetics – biting force on the temporary can cause implant failure. Once osseointegration is complete, the final restoration can be placed, restoring the function and beauty of a natural tooth.
What happens if I lose a tooth and don't replace it?
Once a tooth is extracted, a cascade of changes happens that can affect your oral health. The first thing many people notice is that other teeth start shifting. Teeth on either side of the space often tip into the open area. The tooth on the opposing arch usually supraerupts out of position looking for a tooth to bite against. Not only does all this tooth movement cause the bite to change, it also causes food to catch between the teeth. This leads to both cavities and periodontal disease. Not replacing a missing tooth also means your bite force is now spread between less teeth. If you lost the first tooth due to a fracture, the others are now even more likely to fracture too. There are many ways that not replacing a missing tooth can damage all of the surrounding teeth. Placing an implant prevents the surrounding teeth from moving and all of the problems that come along with it.
Bone exists in the jaw to support the teeth. Once a tooth is lost, the bone starts to disappear. The bony ridge becomes both shorter and thinner. This makes is more difficult to place an implant in the future if desired, but it also leads to bone loss on the surrounding teeth. Teeth next to an open space often have exposed roots due to bone loss. When an implant is placed, bone height and width stays steady over time.
Finally, not replacing a missing tooth in an esthetic concern for many. If the space is visible in the smile, the missing tooth will be obvious. But missing teeth not typically visible in your smile, as in molars, can still change your esthetics. Many people notice that their cheeks sink in and their faces become drawn if molar teeth are missing and not replaced. Implants can help support the cheek to maintain facial contours.
Advantages of dental implants
Dental implants are the standard of care when replacing a tooth. An implant looks and functions just like a real tooth. Implants are as easy to care for as a regular tooth; they can be brushed and flossed just like the real thing. No dental procedure has a perfect record of success, but dental implants are one of the most long-lasting dental procedures available. Ten year dental implant success rates are over 90%.
A bridge used to be the first choice for replacing a missing tooth, but the teeth on either side of the missing space need to be ground down before placing the bridge. When replacing a tooth with an implant, the teeth on either side are untouched. Bridges are also difficult to clean because you can’t floss between the teeth. Many people upgrade their bridges with an implant because homecare becomes easier.
A partial denture is another way to replace missing teeth. Although relatively economical, most people would prefer an implant. Partials must be removed at night, have to be cleaned, and put added pressure on the remaining teeth. Implants are a permanent solution and not removeable. The partial usually applies pressure to the jawbone, making it resorb even faster than if nothing was there at all. Conversely, implants preserve height and width and prevent atrophy.
Contact Enamor Dentistry
Dr. Melander is a Scottsdale dentist and an expert in dental implants. If you would like more information about implants or would like to create a treatment plan tailored to your unique needs, please contact Enamor Dentistry today.