Losing teeth, no matter if it is only one or you lose several, has a significant impact on your whole life. Fortunately, tooth loss can be treated. There are several options available for replacing your missing teeth. Traditionally, your options were limited to bridges or dentures. Today, in addition to these traditional treatments, there are also dental implants. At Lehigh Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we are proud to offer dental implants as a long-term solution for replacing your missing teeth, giving you your life back.
What Causes Tooth Loss?You can lose teeth for various reasons. One of the biggest causes of tooth loss is gum, or periodontal, disease. When you have gum disease, you gum tissue swells and pulls away from your teeth. This creates pockets that bacteria fall into. Once there, the bacteria begin attacking the periodontal ligaments and the jawbone, the structures responsible for holding your teeth in place. These supporting structures become weak, which then causes the teeth to become loose. Without treatment, they eventually begin to fall out.
Other causes for tooth loss include:
The Effects of Losing TeethLosing teeth has several major effects. One of the most obvious impacts of tooth loss is the effects that it has on your smile. Without teeth, whether one or several, the quality of your smile decreases. This can also have a significant impact on your confidence. Other effects of tooth loss include
What Are Dental Implants?Dental implants are a modern alternative to traditional bridges and dentures. Implants consist of 3 components and involve a surgical procedure for placement.
The Types of Dental ImplantsDental implants are a versatile treatment that can be used in some different situations. Whether you are missing a single tooth, several teeth, or even all of your teeth, there is an option for you.
A Brief History of Dental ImplantsDental implants are often thought to be a modern treatment for replacing missing teeth. While the implants we know and use today are the result of modern research, implants themselves have a rather long history. Thousands of years ago, many cultures used implants to replace missing teeth after death as a way to improve the appearance of the body in preparation for the afterlife. There is also some evidence that implants were also used long ago while people were still alive. The mandible of a young Mayan woman, dating back to 600 AD, was found with carved bone and shell in her jaw. While originally thought to be placed after death, it was later discovered that her bone had begun to fuse to the implant, showing that it had been placed while she was still alive.
Modern dental implants are the result of an accidental discovery made in the 1950s. During this time, Swedish orthopedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånemark was researching the healing and regeneration of bone. At one point, he placed a titanium cylinder in the femur of a rabbit. When he tried to remove the cylinder later, he discovered that the bone had fused to it, and the cylinder could not be removed. Brånemark had discovered osseointegration. This discovery triggered further research, which involved the use of both animal and human subjects. Eventually, he developed dental implants, which were placed successfully for the first time in 1965.
Over the years, Brånemark continued his research. He entered into a partnership with Bofors AB, which is now known as Nobel Industries. This company helped him to manufacture and market his products. Eventually, Bofors AB created Nobelpharma, now known as Nobel Biocare, a company that focuses solely on the development of dental implants. Continuous research and development have led to improvements in dental implants that have greatly increased their strength, stability, and reliability. Nobel Biocare is now the industry leader in dental implants, and over 7 million Brånemark systems have been placed worldwide. Read more about the History of Dental Implants.
How Are Dental Implants Placed?Unlike traditional treatments for replacing missing teeth, dental implants require a surgical procedure for placement. This procedure is done under a local anesthetic, which ensures that you do not feel any pain. We can also provide you with sedation, which can help you to relax and remain comfortable while we place your implants. Surgery begins with small incisions created in your gums, exposing your jawbone underneath. Next, holes are drilled into the bone, and the implant posts are placed inside. Your gums are sutured closed around the posts, and temporary teeth are placed on them.
The recovery process for dental implants varies from patient to patient. Typically, it takes anywhere from several weeks to several months. During this time, the bone gradually fuses to the posts, stabilizing them within your jaw. Several follow-ups during the recovery process ensure that the bone is fusing properly and that there are no issues present.
In the early stages of recovery, you may feel some pain and swelling. This can often be managed with over the counter or prescription pain relievers. Ice and heat can help as well. Additionally, you should stick to a soft food diet at the beginning of the recovery process, which will help to prevent discomfort. As you begin to heal, you can gradually resume both normal activities as well as a normal diet. You will be provided aftercare instructions that will help you to ensure that your recovery goes smoothly.
Once you have fully healed from surgery, the process for placing your final restorations begins. This process generally takes two appointments. At the first appointment, we remove your temporary teeth, place the abutments, and take impressions. The impressions are used to design and create custom restorations. Once they are complete, we check them for fit and bite and secure them into place with small screws.
Caring for Your Dental ImplantsDental implants can, and should, be cared for just like the rest of your natural teeth. They should be brushed and flossed daily. While the ceramic crowns cannot develop decay and cavities, they can still collect plaque and bacteria. If the crowns are not properly cared for, the buildup of these substances can lead to gum disease. Gum disease can affect you even if all of your teeth have been replaced with implants. Bacteria that fall below your swollen tissue attack your jawbone, which compromises the stability of your implants. Taking proper care of your implants ensures that your smile remains healthy and beautiful. Read more about Caring for your Dental Implants.
What Benefits Do Dental Implants Offer?There are several benefits associated with dental implants. These benefits include
Read more about the Benefits of Dental Implants.
Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?While implants can be used in some different situations, an initial consultation is needed to determine that they are the best solution for you.
Dental implants off you a unique treatment for replacing missing teeth that not only restores the functions of those teeth but gives you back a perfectly natural, beautiful smile as well. If you are missing teeth, and are interested in finding out if dental implants are the right solution for you, call Lehigh Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at (610) 435-6161 today.