There are negative consequences to not replacing missing and extracted teeth that may affect the oral health. Most importantly :
- Tilting of the adjacent teeth to the extraction space so the teeth become crooked and other spaces may appear in the teeth.
- Resorption of the bone of the jaw because of teeth loss and change in facial profile due to the difference of activity in the muscles of the face.
- Chewing food on the unaffected side this resulting in hypertrophy of muscles of the face, tooth wear due to extra forces on the teeth and dental decay.
- Frequent headaches and earache due to an unbalanced bite and as the teeth migrate to the extraction spaces
- Food accumulation at the spaces and dental decay along with periodontal disease
- Difficulty in eating food and chewing resulting in gum inflammations and digestive tract problems
- Stuttering and having difficulty in speech this resulting in overall loss of confidence and discomfort with appearance.
Luckily there are many alternatives to replace missing teeth and to care for the remaining teeth to improve overall function and esthetics, the most important of which is – Implants.
Replacing lost teeth with implants
Teeth implants are one the most important treatments available to replace missing teeth. It has become the commonest and most successful method of tooth replacement as it doesn’t harm the neighbouring tissue or compromise the adjacent teeth. It keeps the teeth safe and sound and has excellent esthetic and functional outcomes that are viable for a very long time. It is to date the only type of tooth replacement option that also preserves the bone structure.
Tooth implants are a safe choice with a success rate of 98 percent. It is suitable for all ages old and as young as 18 years of age.
Some people may consider implant in dentistry expensive but it’s a lifetime investment as it replaced the missing tooth and it compensates from the material cost of not having the tooth replaced. Many other medical issues may arise from negligence after extraction. Just discuss your treatment expectations with your dentist and what are your best treatment options.
The process of dental implants
The implant parts are
1. Implant body
This is the part that is embedded in the bone and it is an implant made of titanium that is completely safe and biocompatible. It osseointergrates with the jaw bone easily and rapidly. It doesn’t resorb or react and can be used to replace the tooth roots.
2. Healing screw
This is a temporary cover that’s placed on top of the implant during the healing phase. After which the crown is replaced after healing.
3. Tooth Crown
This the new crown that is placed and connected to the implant and which resembles a natural tooth in shape and function.
Conditions for dental implants
To guarantee the success of the treatment and get ths desired results there are some certain conditions that need to be fulfilled. They are :
*The success of the treatment is dependent on the amounts and quality of bone that is available. Delaying in replacement of the extracted tooth will result in severe bone loss and resorption and in such cases it is necessary to place a bone graft before adding the implant.
* All kinds of of infections in the oral cavity must be treated first, because allowing these problems to persist will have an impact on the success of the implant placed. As the the surrounding tissue might become infected this will result in the loss of the implant in the future.
* It is important to ensure that any implant that is placed has to be at a distance from the main sinuses and the nerves of the jaw orders. Necessary investigations and xrays should be taken prior to implant placement, during the planning phase.
*The patient must not have any chronic conditions that me cause a hindrance to the implants treatment such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, radiotherapy. The sugar levels must be controlled and smoking kept at a minimum of 10 cigarettes a day.
Other than the previously mentioned conditions implants in dentistry are suitable for all ages as long as they are in good health, whether there is one tooth loss or several these that have been extract
What are the steps to placing dental implants?
After discussing your problem with your dentist and the decision has been made up start with dental implants to replace the missing teeth. The dentist will carry out necessary investigations, including xrays and CT scans and some blood test if requored to make sure that sufficient healthy bone exists to support the implant.
After ensuring that all the necessary factors have been met in order for the dental implant treatment to be successful, the implant surgery is done in several stages.
Stage one: the area of the missing tooth is prepared for the implant that is made of the metal Titanium.
Stage two: this is known as the healing stage where the bone and the implant begin to integrate and it takes between 3 to 6 months
Stage three: after complete healing the final crown is placed so that the implant can resemble real functioning tooth.
Commonly asked questions
The benefits of dental implants
Dental implant surgery may seem intimidating but knowing the benefits will help you to relax and be able to take this wise decision for the sake of your oral health. The most important advantage of dental implants is that it is is an investment that is life long as a implant lasts for a very long time in comparison to most other teeth replacement options for example dentures that need to be replaced frequently. The importance of this and the cosmetic and therapeutic advantages are as follows :
Safety because implants are made of Titanium that is biocompatible it does not rust or disintegrate in the jaw. It is rigidly held in place making it easy to chew and speak without any fear or worry of implant failure.
It can last for a lifetime with good oral health. Brushing regularly and flossing, similarly to the care given to natural teeth. This is unlike dentures and bridges that need to be replaced after every few years
Dental implants are the only teeth replacement options that maintain the bone and maintain the facial profile while protecting the adjacent teeth are not harmed during treatment.
It also prevents the loss of natural teeth as implants in the spaces will prevent the neighbouring teeth from tilting into the spaces and that it acts as a real root and stimulates the surrounding tissue and bone to stay healthy and strong.
Types of implant surgery
There are many types of dental implants placement methods, choosing the best one is by discussing your health status with your dentist. The main types are ,
Traditional implant technique :
The dentist will place the titanium implant in the hard part of the bone, from where the tooth has been removed so this will be a replacement for the actual roots. The time taken for the bone to completely form around the implant is three to six months after which the dentist will then place a crown on the surface of the gums, attached to the implant so it can resemble the natural tooth in shape and function.
Immediate Implants :
These types of implants are also known as same day implants. This technology involves placing a temporary Crown on the same day that the implant is placed to allow you to have a normal life. To be able to smile normally and eat while the surgery site is still healing and merging with the jaw bone over 3 to 6 months. Despite this being a quick and easy fix,it’s not applicable in all cases.
The All-on-4 technology works on bringing the maximum benefit from the patient’s available bone. This allows patients with insufficient bone to still have surgery to have implants without bone grafts.
The All-on-4 technology requires only one appointment to prepare for the implant, one appointment to place the implants and the temporaries and then a follow up appointment after during the healing phase which is usually between 3 to 6 months after which a denture is placed after healing.
What after implants?
After placing the implants whether immediate or the traditional method, there has to he a healing phase to ensure success of the surgery and following some certain guidelines to ensure the safety and success of the procedure. Most importantly :
Avoid hard foods during the initial healing phase and eat foods that are easy to chew.
Limit your smoking or advise it completely during the healing and after completing the treatment as this affects the stability of the implants.
Brush regularly and maintain good oral hygiene as any bacterial presence will affect healing. Make sure to visit your dentist regularly.
People may consider implant treatment costly but it is a lifetime investment because replacing missing teeth will eliminate all the negative consequences that may arise from tooth extractions. Hence a lot of problems can be avoided, just discuss your treatment options with your dentist and choose the best for you and your health.
Why do some implants not last long and fail?
Infections around the implant : due to the presence of bacteria around the implant and accumulation of plaque and calculus,this may result in failure of the implant. Keeping the oral cavity clean will prevent such an outcome.
Loosening or falling of an implant : the integration between the bone and titanium implant may not form and this may be due to insufficient bone or infection around the area. This can be prevented by planning for the treatment carefully in the initial planning stage.
Overloading the implant : this may result in implant failing due to the extra load on the implant as a result of clenching or bruxism. It’s important to identify this problem early on and recommend a night guard to be work to relieve some pressure.
Unhealthy habits : some unhealthy habits such as excessively smoking, having poor oral hygiene are factors that negatively influence treatment success and its longevity. This can be prevented by reducing smoking and practicing good oral care.