Although visibly jarring in many cases, the immediate cosmetic effects of tooth loss are not the most important complications to consider when you’ve lost one or more teeth. A typical adult mouth only grows 32 permanent teeth. Since many patients remove their last four molars, or wisdom teeth, due to crowding and discomfort, the other 28 adult teeth are even more vital to maintaining proper bite balance. Excellent dental hygiene, routine dental exams and cleanings, and prompt professional treatment can help most patients avoid tooth loss and the need for tooth extraction. Unfortunately, losing teeth remains a significant oral health problem, and as your Rochester dentist warns, dental implants may be the only option that can stop the destruction following tooth loss.
A Glimpse at Conventional Teeth Replacement
The desire to replace lost teeth isn’t a new one, and restorative dentistry has been a part of dental and health care for centuries. In fact, the first porcelain dentures became popular in the late 1700s. Today, dental bridges, partial dentures, and complete dentures help numerous patients regain their quality of life by restoring their ability to bite, chew, and speak. However, conventional dental prostheses only replace the visible portions of lost teeth, called the crowns. While natural teeth are supported by roots that are embedded within the jawbone, traditional replacement teeth rely on dental adhesives or precision clasps to remain in place.
What Really Happens After Tooth Loss
The bottom half of a tooth, called the root, extends below the gum line and is nestled in a socket within the jawbone. When the root is lost, the body relocates the minerals and nutrients that supported it elsewhere, and reabsorbs the jawbone tissue in and around the empty socket. In time, the reduced nutrient supply and jawbone resorption can weaken your smile’s support, shrinking your jawbone and leading to further tooth loss.
The Difference of Better Support
To defeat the effects of lost teeth roots, dental implants mimic nature’s design for supporting healthy teeth. The titanium root devices are surgically inserted into the jawbone, which fuses to the implant’s surface while it heals. Since implants are designed to replace only lost teeth roots, they can be combined with a dental crown, partial, or complete denture to replace one, several, or a complete row of lost teeth. By replacing the roots, dental implants also help restore a healthy blood flow and supply of nutrients to prevent continuing jawbone deterioration.
Dr. Gilly Calcagno is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the American Dental Association, and the Minnesota Dental Association, and is active in local dental implant study clubs.