When is a dental implant used?
There are many causes for teeth to be removed. These can range from disease, trauma to congenitally missing teeth. In any event, the technology exists for the replacement of missing teeth that closely resemble natural teeth in both their appearance and function.
Some people are born missing some teeth. These “congenitally” missing teeth can be replaced at adulthood when the jaw has completed its growth. It is not uncommon for “baby teeth” to last into early adult hood without falling out. Unfortunately it is very uncommon for these teeth to last a lifetime due to several factors including decay, breakage, root resorption and intrusion into the jaw. If a person is diagnosed with not having an adult tooth to erupt in the baby tooth’s place, it may be practical to start planning implant placement for the future.
Some people may have had all of their teeth removed many years ago as this was not an unusual practice even as recently as 35 years ago. Unfortunately over time, the missing teeth in their jaw will allow serious bone resorption by the body and allow the whole face to collapse. There is little to hold up the dentures and these people generally have a very poor quality of life. It is often not thought of when choosing the option of a denture that in the near future diet and lifestyle will need to be significantly changed due to the inability to chew certain foods, speech changes and needing to remove dentures at night.
Implants are therefore a way of improving the appearance and function back to how nature intended.
Why should I treat a missing tooth?
Do you know all of the side effects of leaving a missing tooth site once a tooth has been removed?
To understand the long term side effects of leaving a missing tooth, we have inserted below a diagram with corresponding numbered information:
1. Drifting teeth: teeth either side will slowly tip into the empty space and require extraction. Orthodontic treatment may be required to bring teeth back to their correct position
2. Bone loss: the body will naturally absorb bone in the area of the missing tooth starting from the time of extraction. Bone loss from multiple missing teeth can change the shape of the lower third of the face and create a sunken profile with thinner lips. Denture wearers must constantly have dentures made thicker as bone loss continues
3. Food Packing, decay & jawbone disease: as the teeth either side of the missing tooth tilt into the empty space, it opens gaps in between the surrounding teeth, allowing for food to get caught. Food packing areas significantly increase levels of bacteria which can eat away the enamel (decay) and burrow under the gums, eating away the jaw bone (gum disease)
4. Loss of opposing tooth: The reason our teeth do not grow longer is because they are designed to stay in place by biting down on the opposite tooth. If there is no longer an opposing tooth to bite on, a tooth will naturally start growing out of the jaw bone and require extraction
5. Jaw joint problems & worn teeth: Our jaw is engineered to function correctly when the weight of the bite has force distributed through the back teeth. As back teeth are lost, the force is taken through the front teeth, causing strain on the jaw joint and excessive enamel wear on the front teeth. Front teeth are left vulnerable to fractures and breakages
6. Jaw muscle problems: Due to changed distribution of force when the back teeth are missing (as described above) teamed with localised bone loss, jaw muscles will naturally try to overcompensate during chewing and talking. Patients experience pain in the jaw and cheeks.
How do I know if a dental implant is right for me?
It is important when deciding on having a dental implant treatment that you make yourself aware of all of the intricacies that are involved in its placement and aftercare. To help provide some more detailed information, we have created a printable fact sheet to help you decide if implant placement is right for you: Click to download our dental implant placement fact sheet
For patients of Dr Orb who have had implants placed, our Dental Implant Post Operative Information Sheet is now available on line for your convenience: Click to download our Dental Implant Post Operative Information Sheet