Dental implants are revolutionizing the way we think about oral health as we age. Since the majority of our patients prefer to maintain their natural teeth as they age, it is becoming less frequent that dentists recommend the removal of natural teeth in the interest of moving to full dentures. Dental implants serve as anchors to the bone and can durably attach a single false tooth, a bridge or a full arch denture.
Understanding the Tooth/Bone Relationship
Do you know that your teeth are alive? Just like any other part of your body, your teeth are in constant communication with the nervous system via the nerve housed within them. Similarly, teeth are in a dynamic relationship with the bone that supports them. As teeth flex due to chewing forces, the bone modifies (grows or shrinks) to accommodate them. Braces take advantage of this relationship by using pressure against the teeth to train them into alignment. In other words, as brackets push and pull on the teeth, the bone that supports them remodels to allow for their movement.
This healthy relationship between teeth and bone ensures that the bone levels around the tooth remain high. When a tooth is lost, that relationship is broken and the bone now lacks the stimulus to grow, causing it to shrink. Implants are one of the best artificial options to slow down that bone loss. The titanium implant that anchors the false tooth to the bone applies forces every time we chew, mimicking that stimulus. Although it is not as potent as a natural tooth, a dental implant is a highly effective way to maintain bone health while restoring function and esthetics. Every time your jawbone feels pressure, it reminds the body to call-in mineral delivery to deposit in the bone and maintain its strength.
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All services performed by a general dentist.
When Minerals are Missing
When you lose several teeth along your dental arch, the impact on the jaw is that, within as little as six months after their loss, your jaw begins to degrade in form and strength. This is because there are no longer biting forces exerted on the bone and it begins to divert critical minerals away from the area. The result is best depicted in denture patients where demineralization results in a shortening of the jaw, and a dramatic change in the appearance to the lower third of the face. This is particularly evident in the numerous fittings required to maintain a good fit with dentures despite a continuously changing jaw. For many years, there was no way to mitigate this result, until dental implants came into the picture.
Dental implants are a reliable solution to jawbone resorption thanks to the discovery of the relationship between bone and titanium. Titanium has the unique ability to bond with bone and become integrated into its structure. A titanium root is screwed into the jawbone of implant recipients and is left to heal while osseointegration takes place. Once the titanium implant is properly integrated into the bone structure, a false tooth can be attached to the it by way of an abutment. This titanium root is able to withstand bite forces and distribute them into the bone for retention of the structure and strength of the jaw at a rate of approximately 80% (unlike its denture counterpart which distributes only 10%).
What Do Dental Implants Cost?
Dental implants require an investment in your health, and for this reason it is important to discuss the cost of dental implants and your suitability for them with your dentist in person. If you have questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today!
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