When patients lose a tooth or teeth due to trauma or periodontal disease, dental implants are an ideal option for patients with good general oral health. Implants look and feel like your own teeth and can last a lifetime if given the proper placement and maintenance.
Why are Implants Better than Dentures and Bridges?
There are other routes a patient can take to replace missing teeth, including dentures and bridges; however, dental implants are a much better solution for many reasons.
Placement of Dental Implants
Dental implants aid in replacing a single tooth, several teeth or even all of your teeth. The implant itself looks like a screw or cylinder and is placed into the jaw. Over the period of 2-6 months, the implant and jawbone bond together to provide an anchor for the crown. An abutment is used as an extension to complete the foundation for the new tooth to be attached.
Sometimes several teeth need to be replaced, and implant-supported bridges are a prime option as opposed to fixed bridges or removable partial dentures. The bone is better preserved with implant-supported bridges as it replaces some of your tooth roots that had deteriorated.
Replacing all of your teeth is also possible with implant-supported full bridges or implant-supported dentures. Patients are able to preserve their natural bite with implants and achieve more comfort and stability than with conventional dentures.
Although proper oral hygiene is always recommended for maintaining good dental health, it is especially important when a patient has received a dental implant. Bacteria can attack sensitive areas in the mouth when teeth and gums are not properly cleaned, thus causing gums to swell and jaw bones to gradually recede. Recession of the jawbone will weaken implants and eventually make it necessary for the implant to be removed. Patients are advised to visit their dentists at least twice a year to ensure the health of their teeth and implants. Dental implants can last for decades when given proper care.
- Adjacent teeth do not have to be altered to support an implant, such as with bridgework. This is significant for your overall oral health by leaving more of your own teeth untouched. With a tooth-supported fixed bridge, the adjacent teeth are ground down to support the fixed bridge.
- Dental implants are integrated into the structure of your bone, preventing gum recession and possible bone loss that can sometimes be attributed to bridgework and dentures.
- Dental implants function just as your natural teeth do, offering you more comfort and stability than conventional dentures.
What is a periodontist? Do I need to see one?
A periodontist specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease, as well as dental implant placement. All periodontists are general dentists, but they receive additional training of up to three years after dental school to obtain the necessary education to perform procedures in periodontics. Your general dentist may refer you to a periodontist if you exhibit the symptoms of gum disease; however, you may schedule an appointment on your own if you have concerns about your oral health.
What is periodontal disease, and am I at risk of developing it?
The term “periodontal” simply means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth. Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease is mainly attributed to the bacteria in dental plaque, which causes the gums to become inflamed and infected. Other factors, such as smoking or tobacco use, poor nutrition, stress or pregnancy, may put you at risk of developing gum disease.
Is periodontal disease contagious?
Although it is not an airborne disease, research has indicated that the bacteria that cause gum disease can be passed through saliva. Therefore, families and couples who may be in close contact with a person with gum disease are also at risk. We recommend being screened for periodontal disease regularly if you are potentially at risk.
My gums bleed when I brush my teeth. Is this normal?
Healthy gums should not bleed when you brush your teeth. This is one of the early signs of gum disease. You should schedule an appointment with your periodontist for a complete periodontal screening.
Are there any ways to prevent periodontal disease?
A good oral hygiene regimen is imperative in preventing periodontal disease. Proper brushing and flossing, in conjunction with regular dental visits for professional cleanings twice a year, will help keep your smile healthy for life.
Are dental implants the best restoration option?
Your periodontist can determine if dental implants are your best restoration option for your individual case. Dental implants have a natural look and feel and can help prevent shifting of surrounding teeth. Implants are often preferred to bridges and dentures because they are more secure and can help prevent bone loss. Also, adjacent teeth are not affected by the placement of implants.
If I have periodontal disease, do I need surgery? What are my options?
Whether you need surgery or not will depend on how advanced your periodontal disease is. There are non-surgical treatments, such as root scaling and planing available, for those with mild gum disease. If you are in the advanced stages of gum disease, you may benefit from having surgery. With the latest technology and advanced techniques available today, many surgical procedures can be performed in an office setting with little discomfort.
What is maintenance therapy?
Maintenance therapy is used to help prevent further infection from occurring in patients who have already received periodontal treatment. Your periodontist will tailor a program to fit your needs, which will include periodontal checkups, plaque and tartar removal and sometimes polishing your teeth or checking your bite. The frequency of visits varies from case to case, from every few weeks to four times per year.
I have a “gummy” smile. What can be done to correct this?
A procedure called crown lengthening can correct “gummy” smiles. “Gummy” smiles make teeth appear too short. With crown lengthening, the gums and supporting tissues are reshaped to expose more of the tooth.
My gums are receding and my teeth appear “long.” Can this be fixed?
If left untreated, gum recession can lead to tooth loss. Soft tissue grafts can fix this condition and also prevent further recession or bone loss. In the procedure, gum tissue is taken from your palate or another donor source. This tissue is then placed over the exposed roots, which helps to even out the gum line and reduce sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.