Why Should I Replace Missing Teeth?
When you lose a tooth, the best thing for your oral health is to have that tooth replaced. A tooth that is missing can affect your "bite", your ability to speak, eat, and chew, and can cause an increased burden on your remaining teeth resulting in muscle pains in your jaws as well as headaches. One of the ways that dentists can replace a missing tooth is by the use of dental implants.
What Is A Dental Implant?
In order to describe what a dental implant is, lets take a look at what a real tooth consists of. A real tooth has roots and a crown. The crown is the part of the tooth that you can see and eat with. The root is the part of the tooth that is beneath the crown and anchors the tooth through the gum tissue to the jawbone. Losing a tooth causes you to lose both the crown and the root. So, in order to replace your tooth, we have to create a new root and that is what the dental implant is.
The dental implant, which is a titanium root, is fitted to a socket that is created in your jaw. Once the implant has been created in the jaw, the bone around the implant needs to heal for up to six months. This is the initial stage of healing and at the end of this time period, a support post called an abutment is placed on the implant and then a new crown will be placed on top.
When Are Implants Placed?
An implant is inserted at the location where the missing tooth was. This replacement happens at approximately three months after the tooth was removed. During these three months, the socket walls of bone, if they are intact and fairly thick, where the old tooth was will grow new bone to replace or refill the empty socket. The socket usually is completely filled with bone by the time you are ready for replacement by the implant (about three months later).
If your tooth has been missing for a long time, the bone that is adjacent to the socket will grow thinner because the stimulation that is created by the tooth root is no longer there. As much as one third of your jaw's thickness can be lost in the year following tooth extraction. Too much bone loss can mean that you may have to have additional bone grafted into the area so that the implant will be supported adequately.
How Many Implants Do I Need?
Typically, one implant is placed per missing tooth. This rule does not apply, however, to the back teeth. The back teeth have two or three roots. The approach that is most commonly used is to replace back teeth with larger implants or more than one implant per tooth. Using more implants per tooth will be used especially in cases where there has been moderate bone loss or if the person uses excessive biting force on the back teeth.
Some treatment systems can use 4 to 6 implants for a whole jaw. The doctor will help you decide what is best for your situation.
HARKINS, HANCOCK & JOHNSTON DENTISTRY | 11010 QUAKER AVE | LUBBOCK, TX 79424 | (806) 797-6453