Dental implants are a common method of dealing with missing teeth that are causing self-esteem or dental issues for the patient. The implants consist of a titanium artificial root and a carefully crafted artificial tooth that snaps in place over the root. Anyone with missing teeth can be a candidate for implants, but what are some of the common reasons patients ask for implants?
Missing or Removed Tooth
Some people have missing teeth because that adult tooth simply never grew in after the baby tooth fell out. The resulting gap can cause self-esteem issues and has the potential to cause the other neighboring teeth to shift positions. This shift can lead to a misaligned bite that might require braces to correct. An oral surgeon or dentist can implant the artificial tooth as soon as it's clear that a child's adult tooth isn't going to come in. This can help prevent the misalignment, saving money and future surgical visits.
Alternatively, adult teeth can completely fall out on their own. This can happen due to severe gum disease, dental infection or a trauma such as a car accident. If only one or two teeth are missing, dental implants will likely be the easiest solution. If multiple teeth are missing, a bridge or partial dentures might make more sense.
Severely Damaged Teeth
As a general rule, dentists try not to pull existing teeth if there's a chance of saving the tooth. But if an accident, decay or disease have eroded the core structure of the tooth, extraction can be recommended as the solution. Dental implants can then be used as a replacement. Note that if the decay or disease was caused by an underlying health problem, the dentist may want that problem to be properly treated before the implant is placed. For example, dental infections may require antibiotics to clear up completely or diabetics may need to ensure their blood sugar is well managed before the implant procedure. Certain health conditions such as diabetes slow the healing process so your dentist or oral surgeon will likely require frequent post-implant visits to make sure everything is healing up as it should.
As mentioned, dental implants can help partial dentures stay in place to prevent slipping, which can cause problems with chewing and speaking and rub the gums raw. But those needing full dentures can also have dental implants. The artificial roots are placed all the way around the gums and then a custom set of dentures is snapped into place. This solution is more costly than traditional dentures but ensures a better fit and can improve the daily life activities of the wearer.