One remembers with fondness how losing a milk tooth used to be so painless. And how a missing tooth would make a kid only more adorable! Sadly all of us have outgrown that age. Now, losing a tooth means all kinds of inconveniences.
One can lose a tooth for a variety of reasons like
• Accident injury
• Gum disease
• Old age
• Artificial extraction for radiation therapy to head and mouth etc.
What are the disadvantages of a missing tooth?
Inconveniences of a missing tooth include-
• Poor self-esteem – due to loss of facial symmetry
• Bad bite condition or misaligned teeth. It can lead to problems related to the temporomandibular joint or jaw joint.
• Inability to chew into certain foods that can lead to poor eating habits. It has a direct impact on the overall health.
• The part of the jaw bone that held the lost tooth may start to erode. There may be significant loss of bone and further complications may arise.
• Problems with speech
Thus, leaving the space of a missing tooth is never a good idea in the long run.
How can you replace the missing tooth?
For a long time now, dentures have been the traditionally accepted means of replacing a missing tooth. Although they are convenient to install they ignore the loss of jaw bone. Dentures need to be cleaned separately. Moreover, since people can remove them anytime, it is possible that they can be underused.
Missing teeth have also been replaced by dental bridges. These literally ‘bridge’ the gap between of the missing tooth, using a set of 3 consecutive crowns. The missing tooth is replaced by a whole crown, while the adjacent teeth are scraped of their enamel and fitted with crowns. While it they are a more permanent option than dentures, bridges also have their disadvantages. Like dentures, they too ignore the significant bone erosion and even possible decay that takes place below the gum line. The removal of enamel from the adjacent teeth renders them weak and vulnerable to decay.
Dental implants by far are best way possible to replace a missing tooth. They simulate the presence of real tooth in every way possible.
How do dental implants work?
Dental implants are holistic replacements of a missing tooth. They replicate the real tooth from every angle. The dentists may contour the gums if they feel it is necessary. Also, if it has been some time since the loss of tooth, the jaw bone below the space mat have eroded and may require therapy to fill out again.
The implant is a metal screw called ‘anchor’. A hole is drilled into the gum and the implant is fitted into it. The gum is allowed to heal for some time. In this time, residual gum and bone tissue grows back around the anchor, which strengthens it. The top of the implant is fitted with a crown to give the appearance of perfect set of teeth.
Who is a candidate for dental implants?
An average candidate should possess strong gums and bone to withstand the surgeries. The patient must also show a willingness to sit through a long procedure and follow the rules of maintaining good oral health.
Following people may not be able to get implants. They are-
• Heavy smokers – excessive smoking is known to cause definite implant failure
• Pregnant women
• Patients of radiation therapy
• Diabetics, hemophiliacs at.
• People with a habit of bruxism or teeth grinding
• People with low immunity