Oral health is vital and can affect the general health if not addressed. You are orally healthy when you are free from dental diseases or any pain in the face, throat, and mouth. Whenever you feel pain in your mouth, it transmits throughout your face, throat, and ears and this is why you should keep your oral health.
According to the WHO, more than 25% of adults above 65 years old have lost their teeth either by periodontal disease, trauma or dental caries. Extracting a decayed tooth doesn’t necessarily solve the problem, but it gives birth to another defect. How is that?
Before you know the treatment of tooth loss it is crucial you understand how it can influence oral health on the negative side.
Effects of Tooth Loss on Oral Health
When you think you have gotten rid of the tooth that has given you endless pain something else starts to happen with your other teeth. Here are some of the effects of a lost tooth.
- After a tooth is lost, the other teeth begin to shift towards the gap left by the lost tooth. It is natural for them to act in this manner since there was a tooth in the space that prevented them from moving. The shifting of teeth eventually causes misalignment which will affect the way you chew food.
- Tooth roots stimulate the jaw bone to regenerate, and when there is an extraction of a tooth, there is no stimulation to the bone and this results in wearing down of the jaw bone where the lost tooth was based.
- Your facial appearance is also affected, and you start aging early. When the jaw bone wears down and deteriorates, the cheeks start caving towards the mouth and the chin sags. This leads to giving you an older appearance.
Ivory Dental adds, “Most people don’t realize that when your chew with your natural teeth you can generate 200 to 600 PSI (LBS per square inch) of biting pressure. About the best we can do with a denture is about 50 PSI. The effects of this is that the bone resorbs in conventional denture patients (thus the squished face look) over time because there is so little functional load. Implants allow us to now return to that 200 to 600 PSI, and we dramatically reduce the subsequent bone loss.”
How to Prevent the Effects of Tooth Loss
The good news though is you can avoid these effects from happening by having a dental implant. A dental implant is the surgical placement of artificial root on or in the jaw bone to replace the lost natural root.
A dental implant is made of titanium, a material that has been tested and proven to be safe and effective in preventing the effects of tooth loss from happening. Titanium behaves precisely like the natural tooth root, by stimulating regeneration of the jaw bone which later integrates with it making it permanent.
The process of implant and jaw bone integrating is known as osseointegration.
The Process of Dental Implant
Before the actual dental implant procedure begins, there are some processes you will go through to qualify as the right candidate for the process.
The dentist will need to look at the space where the missing tooth once was and determine there are no shifting teeth. In case the teeth have started shifting it means you’ll need braces to move them back to their original positions.
An x-ray will be taken to see the health of the jaw bone if it has started deteriorating or not. If the bone has begun declining, you’ll need a bone grafting to give the jaw bone enough volume to be able to hold the implant in place securely.
The dentist should know about any medication allergies you may have and if you are on any medication or supplements. A full medical history is taken to keep the dentist on the know-how in case of anything.
Discuss the Treatment Plan
The general dentist may perform the entire procedure, but in some cases, he/she might work with another dentist who is a specialist. The dentist might work with a maxillofacial surgeon (treats diseases affecting the mouth, jaw, and face) or a periodontist (deals with structures that support the teeth).
The whole process of tooth replacement may take several months depending on how your jaw bone osseointegrates with the implant. You might require two operations one when inserting the dental implant and the other when fixing the crown or denture.
Since the dental procedure is surgical and you’ll need some form of sedation. There are several types of sedation used in a dental clinic, and the dentist will discuss the options available depending on how anxious you are.
It is an out-patient process that is done, and you can go back home and wait for the healing process to take place. The whole process is divided into stages distributed over several months.
- First, the extraction of the tooth if it is still in place.
- Grafting is done where the jaw bone doesn’t have a sufficient quantity of bone for the implant. It takes time to heal and integrate with the graft before the next procedure.
- Now that your jaw bone is ready for the implant the dentist or surgeon inserts the implant into the jaw.
- The implant will require time to osseointegrate with the jaw bone before the next step. Osseointegration will take several months and the actual time will depend on how your jaw bone behaves towards the implant.
- The abutment where the crown or denture is going to be is then attached to the implant, and this may require another surgery if the implant was inserted inside the jaw bone. If the implant was placed above the jaw, then there’s no need of surgery. In some cases, an abutment is put together with the implant, and the surgeon is the one who decides if it is possible.
- The gum is then allowed to heal before your dentist makes prosthetic tooth (crown) that is fixed on the abutment.
A Dental implant takes months for the whole procedure to be completed. Though it takes longer for the entire process to achieve the result will last longer, unlike other tooth loss treatments that need to be replaced after several years of use.
How you manage your oral health will determine how long your dental implant will last. If you want your implant to last longer, exercise good oral habits such as regular visits to your dentist, brushing and flossing daily.