Posts

tooth loss

Understanding Tooth Loss and Your Oral Surgery Treatment Options

According to the American College of Prosthodontists, approximately 178 million Americans have lost at least one permanent tooth, with some 40 million of them having no teeth left at all. Tooth loss does more than create challenges in eating, smiling, and talking; it can also affect your overall health. Fortunately, oral surgery procedures such as dental implants can help you regain your smile and optimize your dental function permanently. Take a look at the causes and effects of tooth loss, along with the treatment options available from skilled oral surgeons.

Causes of Tooth Loss

People may lose teeth for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common issues that might cause you to lose one or more teeth.

  • Periodontal disease – Most cases of tooth loss stem from this preventable inflammatory gum condition. When food particles and saliva get stuck to the teeth around the gum line, bacteria flock to the resulting plaque as a food source. The immune system reacts to the bacteria by mounting an inflammatory response against it. Unfortunately, the inflammation damages the gum tissue surrounding the teeth and weakens the ligaments that hold the teeth in their sockets, potentially leading to tooth loss.
  • Acute injuries or tooth problems – A blow to the face from a fist, ball, auto accident, or other high impact can knock teeth out of their sockets. (Emergency dentists can sometimes reseat these knocked-out teeth and secure them in place until they heal.) A tooth fractured down to the root, erupted at an angle that threatens neighboring teeth, or decayed beyond all hope of repair might require extraction, leaving you with a gap in your smile.
  • Tobacco and alcohol use – Tobacco use not only increases your risk for periodontal disease but also reduces your body’s ability to fight off infections, including oral infections that threaten the stability of your teeth. Excessive alcohol consumption can leave you with a chronically dry mouth, reducing the saliva that normally coats the teeth and helps to safeguard them against catastrophic decay.
  • Underlying conditions – Untreated malnutrition, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even arthritis can make you more vulnerable to tooth loss.

 

How Tooth Loss Affects Facial Aesthetics and Your Health and Functionality

Missing teeth affect the aesthetics of not only our smile, but also of the facial contour and symmetry. Each tooth and tooth-root provide support to our jaw bones and facial muscles. Similar to how grasses at the beach provide anchor to sand, the roots of our teeth help to anchor bone. Missing roots eventually causes surrounding bone to melt away, causing facial structures to have a hollowed out look and show signs of premature ageing.

See our videos about this:

When you have missing teeth, you can’t chew food efficiently. Poor chewing function can make you prone to indigestion, malabsorption of nutrients, and other digestive complaints. You may also develop a heightened risk for gum disease that threatens not just your other teeth, but every system in your body, as bacteria migrate from your gums to major organs.

Tooth loss can affect your ability to talk clearly and smile with confidence in conversations. However, that gap in your smile may prove only the beginning of a more long-term change in your looks. Without constant stimulation from tooth roots, the bone in the jaw stops remodeling itself. The loss of bone density can reduce the height of your jaws, eventually giving your face a “collapsed” look.

 

How an Oral Surgeon Can Help You Deal with Tooth Loss

Adults who have lost teeth have traditionally done whatever they can to fill those gaps in their smile through dental restorations, from bridges that replace individual teeth to full upper and lower dentures. Unfortunately, these replacements have their limitations. For instance, a removable bridge or denture plate can feel loose in the mouth or even get dislodged, making chewing an adventure and threatening public embarrassment. More critically, bridges and dentures only restore the part of the teeth that used to sit above the gum line, not the root structures that anchored the natural teeth to the jawbone, so they can’t stop you from losing bone density.

Your oral surgeon can help you avoid these issues by performing dental implant surgery. Dental implants feature screw-like threaded metal posts capped with permanent crowns. Once the metal posts go into your jawbone, the bone responds by growing into(and in between) the posts’ threads, a phenomenon called osseointegration. This process takes a few months to complete, but you’ll end up with strong, tightly anchored artificial tooth roots that actually promote continuous bone remodeling. The oral surgeon will then add permanent crowns to the posts, giving you a beautiful smile and dental restorations you can rely on for decades to come.

If you have already lost some jawbone density from going without teeth, don’t panic. Your oral surgeon can often surmount this challenge as well by performing a bone graft. In this form of oral surgery, a small amount of organic or synthetic bone fills out the thin parts of the jawbone, providing the firm foundation your implants will require. Just keep in mind that you must heal completely from your bone graft before proceeding with the implant surgery.

Dental implant surgery can work equally well for you whether you seek to replace a single tooth or a whole mouthful of teeth. Oral surgeons can create entire denture plates that snap onto just a handful of implanted posts in the upper and/or lower jaw. You may hear this kind of restoration referred to as a four-on-one or six-on-one dental implant.

Don’t let tooth loss rob you of your ability to smile, talk, and eat with confidence. Contact Oral Surgery DC today to learn more about your dental restoration options!

 

Image credits: Photo by Jeltevanoostrum on Pixabay.

Dental implants

Dental Implants: Why They Are A Great Alternative to Dentures and Bridges

Maintaining a terrific smile as you age can be difficult and if teeth are not properly taken care of, they become compromised and have to be extracted. As the American College of Prosthodontics notes, approximately 178 million Americans are currently missing at least one tooth.

Historically, several civilizations have come up with some unique approaches to missing teeth including ancient Egypt, where archaeologists have discovered several examples of teeth that had dental bridges or “prosthetic appliances.”

More recently, our nation’s first President, George Washington, suffered frequent toothache and had several missing teeth and eventually had to have a partial denture fabricated from ivory and wired in place to the remaining teeth. A full set of the President’s denture is on display at Mount Vernon, the historic home of George and Martha Washington.

More recently, the dental implant has evolved to be the first choice for replacement of a missing tooth/teeth. First placed in the 1960’s the implant has developed various solutions capable of providing permanent solution to a compromised tooth or teeth. If you have lost one or more teeth, you need to understand why dental implants are the go-to option.

 

What Are Dental Implants?

Unlike other tooth replacement methods, implants are a more natural and permanent solution. Dental implants include an anchor, usually ceramic or titanium, placed into the jawbone. After a period of 4-6 months the implant fuses, or technically, osseointegrates with the surrounding bone, creating a solid foundation for placement of a crown or fabricated tooth.

The implant also serves as an anchor in the jaw bone. Bone loss is often associated with a missing tooth, which in turn leads to a hollow look in the cheeks since the bone tissue is no longer present and can be viewed as premature ageing. Unlike a bridge, a dental implant is able to anchor surrounding bone and avoid the bone loss that often accompanies missing teeth.

Dental implants have few if any side effects and are the nearest thing to having your real teeth back. Keep in mind that an implant can support more than one tooth. For instance, four implants can be used to support a replacement upper or lower arch or both, depending on the extent of tooth loss.. Unlike a denture, the teeth are not removable and having much greater biting power of natural teeth up to 90% according to some studies. Dentures have 20-30% biting power.

 

Who Should Get Dental Implants?

Dental implants are appropriate for most adults, even those of advanced age. In fact, implants can benefit the health of older patients because they eliminate the discomfort of sliding dentures and allow the patient to eat the foods they enjoy, and also make sure they get the nutrition that they need. Your oral surgeon will evaluate your medical history to determine if implants are a good choice for you. You may be a suitable implant candidate if the following are true:

  • You have enough healthy bone to hold the implants.
  • Your gums and other oral tissues are healthy.
  • You do not smoke.
  • Your jawbone has reached full growth.

 

What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?

For a good reason, dental implants have become the best solution compared to other tooth replacement options.

  • Implants have a look and feel more like natural teeth, including a functional capacity of 90% of natural teeth, unlike dentures that provide 10-30% function.
  • Implants have proven that with proper care, they can last a lifetime.
  • Third, the lifetime costs of an implant contrasted to a denture are very competitive as one has to consider the expenses of denture adjustments, chair-time fees to the patient for increased dental visits, and replacement costs as most dental appliances have a 5-7 year lifetime.
  • A dental implants does not need special daily care, simply floss and brush as you would natural teeth. In contrast, dentures must be removed and cleaned daily to maintain their appearance and to keep your mouth and gums healthy.
  • Finally, implants give you more confidence since they are a permanent solution that means no one will see you, night or day, without a bright and beautiful smile.

 

What Should You Expect from the Dental Implant Procedure?

A tooth implant is an outpatient procedure done under general anesthesia. Your surgeon may complete the implant process in several phases. After you’ve had a regular dental exam and medical assessment, your oral surgeon may need to do the following:

  • Remove a damaged tooth
  • Graft bone onto your jaw if necessary
  • Place the dental implant
  • Allow for healing
  • Place an abutment (an attachment that holds the artificial tooth in place)
  • Attach the artificial tooth

The process may require several months for your oral surgeon to complete, particularly if you need a bone graft, but an implant that is properly taken care of can last a lifetime.

Sometimes, your surgeon can complete an immediate load procedure that allows them to attach the artificial tooth immediately after placing the implant.

 

What Happens After the Procedure?

Most people only have minor after-effects from their implant surgery. You may experience facial and gum swelling, some bruising, pain at the surgical site, or minor bleeding. You might need to stick to soft food for a few days and take pain relievers and antibiotics.

Most dental implant surgeries are successful, with issues or infections being very rare.

 

How Oral Surgery DC Can Help

Missing and severely decayed teeth are a painful and often embarrassing problem that can affect your overall health and self-esteem. You may not want to try traditional options such as dentures, which can be uncomfortable and look unnatural. Fortunately, a skilled oral surgeon can correct your dental issues.

In the DC area, Oral Surgery DC offers you the latest and safest oral surgery techniques. You can regain your oral health and your confidence by booking an appointment. If you are interested in dental implants, contact us today for more information.

 

Image credits: Photo by Bogdan condr on Unsplash.