Gaps in your smile say a lot for you, even when you don’t utter a single word. What is your smile saying to the world? If you have one or more visible missing teeth, it isn’t saying much to convince people that you’re someone to know, someone to work with, or even someone to love.
Missing teeth are a more common problem in the US than you might think, and most aren’t the result of injury. The average American adult is missing at least three teeth (or is very near to losing them), and the majority of those lost teeth happen because of disease; specifically, gum disease. Whatever the cause, we see the ravages of missing teeth every day in our Longmeadow, MA office.
Whatever the reason behind your tooth-short smile, you need to address the problem. Your teeth are responsible for a lot of your most important functions; when they’re gone is when that fact really hit home. If you have lost teeth, it’s likely that you’re experiencing some (or possibly all) of the following problems:
- Difficulty or even pain when you chew food
- Impaired ability to speak
- Dramatic changes to the shape and appearance of your face (usually the “drooping” or “caved in” look that people often associate with lost teeth)
- Misalignment of the jaw, leading to damage to your teeth that are left (creating pathways for infection and disease)
- “Moving teeth”: the gaps create room for your remaining teeth to move out of alignment, making the likelihood of damage to your teeth even greater
- Reduced bone density in your jaws
The best way to replace your missing teeth and alleviate their painful and embarrassing effects is with dental implants. Dental implants are far superior to dentures and bridges, which have long been the only options for those who have lost one or more teeth.
What Is A Dental Implant?
A dental implant replaces a tooth that has been lost. Dental implants don’t compromise on performance or aesthetics (like dental bridges and dentures), and with proper care, dental implants will last you the rest of your life. Dental implants are so effective primarily because they are surgically placed in your jawbone and beneath your gums. It is important to keep in mind that because getting dental implants is a surgical procedure requiring the use of general anesthesia, you must be healthy enough to undergo oral surgery (we will cover this in a later post).
There are various types of dental implants, but they all feature generally the same three components: the anchor, abutment, and crown. The anchor is the part that is placed in your jaw, and serves as the “artificial root” for your “new tooth”. It is made of titanium, a metal known for its high strength to weight ratio and its biocompatibility (your body will not reject the implant as a result). It resembles a post, and has threading similar to that found on a screw or bolt, which allows the dentist to drive the implant into your jawbone.
The abutment is the middle piece that links the anchor and the crown; it is not visible when the implant is fully assembled. Depending on the type of implant you need, the abutment will use either a powerful adhesive to hold the implant together, or threading like what is found on the anchor.
Finally, the crown is the visible part of the implant; it must be durable enough to take the intense pressures you create when you chew food or use your teeth, and it must also blend in seamlessly to your smile so that no one but you knows that you’ve lost a tooth. Usually, the crown is made of porcelain, which is one of the most reliable and aesthetically valuable materials used in dentistry.
How Are Dental Implants Better?
Dental implants (if you are a suitable recipient) simulate natural teeth, unlike dentures and bridges which only provide partial functionality. Dental implants are also more attractive, and discrete. They also don’t suffer from the drawbacks of dentures and dental bridges: an increased chance of oral infection and a short “operating life”.
What Is Wrong With Dentures?
Dentures depend almost entirely on how they fit in your mouth to work properly. Great precision is required to create dentures that interact properly with your oral tissues and remaining teeth, but even dentures that are correctly designed will eventually lose their fit. Dentures can lose their fit for a lot of reasons, such as damage from normal wear and tear, or even physiological changes in your body that have nothing to do with the dentures. For example, many of our patients are surprised that weight loss can cause significant changes in the shape of your oral cavity. Even if your dentures are in good condition, they are made specifically to fit your mouth when you got them placed. When this changes, the dentures will no longer fit; at this point, they must be replaced.
Dentures that don’t fit have an embarrassing tendency to slip and slide, even to the point of falling out of your mouth completely. All that slipping and sliding also results in a lot of rubbing between the dentures and your tissues, which can lead to serious infections (especially if you haven’t been 100% diligent in the care and maintenance of your dentures).
What About Dental Bridges?
Dental bridges are more long-lasting than dentures, and provide better performance, but they do wear out. Most dental bridges will require total replacement every 5 to 7 years. Infection is possible here too, because placement often calls for the filing down of your healthy teeth, which means you lose a pretty large portion of your enamel, which protects your teeth from harmful bacteria that cause diseases.
Are You Suffering Due to the Loss of Your Teeth?
Don’t endure the emotional and physical pain of tooth loss any longer! Call us for a consultation and learn how we can help you get your smile and your confidence back!
Dial 413-241-3995 or click here to make your appointment online.