Tooth loss, in most people, is associated with several factors. Some of these factors that cause tooth loss are tooth decay, gum disease or periodontal disease, injury and ageing. Research done on a large group of adults, to study the increase in the number of people with one or more teeth missing revealed that more than half the group fell into this category.
Most of those with missing teeth did not bother to get a tooth replacement done because of not understanding the underlying problem of a missing tooth. Just twenty-five per cent were aware of the fact that the loss of a tooth could wear out the bones of the jaw causing a change in the structure of the jaw line.
Treatment Of Tooth Loss
There are many ways to treat tooth loss, the most effective of which is a dental implant. A dental implant is an alternate method to replace a missing tooth. Here an artificial ‘tooth root’ is used. These tooth roots are the basis for artificial teeth that are either permanently fixed or can be removed. They are made to look similar to natural teeth.
Dental implant is the most preferred treatment for tooth loss for a single tooth or more than one tooth. This is because it has shown a 98 per cent success rate. Medical tests show that dental implant is the most successful treatment as a replacement for lost teeth. Secondly, this surgical method allows for minimum bone loss which is why it is favoured over other forms of treatment.
Consequences of a single tooth loss
Studies show that a single tooth loss could have many repercussions some of which are mentioned below:
- There would be a structural change in the jaw.
- Other teeth would get relocated as even a single gap among the teeth would cause the other teeth to shift.
- There would be a change in the contour of the face; the shape of the face.
- There would be a drooping, hollow look to the jaw which is not appealing to the eye.
- This look would, in the long run, lower one’s self-esteem and have a bearing on his eating behaviour.
- Biting and chewing certain types of food would be a problem, like hard fruits and fibrous vegetables, causing one to miss out on a person’s normal staple diet.
- There is a tendency, at such times, to eat fatty foods that are soft and easily Chew-able and to avoid hard foods that are necessary or required for the body. This leads to an increase in extra weight, which is a sign of impending illnesses such as those dealing with heart and diabetes
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a popular and effective solution for replacing missing teeth. They are small titanium posts that are surgically inserted into the jawbone, where they act as artificial tooth roots. Once the dental implants are securely integrated with the surrounding bone through a process called osseointegration, they provide a stable foundation for various dental restorations, such as crowns, bridges, or dentures.
The dental implant procedure is typically performed by an oral surgeon or a qualified dentist specializing in implant dentistry. It involves several steps:
- Consultation and Evaluation: The first step is a thorough examination of the patient’s oral health, including X-rays and, in some cases, 3D imaging. The dentist will assess the bone density and quality to determine if the patient is a suitable candidate for dental implants.
- Implant Placement: During the surgical procedure, the dentist will make an incision in the gum to expose the jawbone. The titanium implant is then carefully positioned into the bone at the site of the missing tooth. Over time, the bone fuses with the implant, creating a stable and durable bond.
- Healing Period: After implant placement, there is a healing period of several weeks to months to allow osseointegration to occur. During this time, the patient may be provided with a temporary dental restoration to maintain aesthetics and function.
- Abutment Placement: Once osseointegration is complete, a small connector called an abutment is attached to the implant. The abutment protrudes above the gumline and serves as the attachment point for the final dental restoration.
- Dental Restoration: After the gum tissue has healed around the abutment, the dentist will take impressions of the patient’s mouth to create a custom dental crown, bridge, or denture. This final restoration is then attached to the abutment, completing the dental implant process.
Advantages of Dental Implants:
Improved Aesthetics: Dental implants closely resemble natural teeth, providing a more natural appearance compared to other tooth replacement options.
Enhanced Functionality: Dental implants offer excellent stability and chewing efficiency, allowing patients to enjoy their favorite foods without limitations.
Longevity: With proper care and maintenance, dental implants can last for many years and even a lifetime, making them a cost-effective long-term solution.
Bone Preservation: Dental implants stimulate the jawbone through chewing forces, helping to maintain bone density and prevent bone loss, which is common after tooth loss.
Speech Improvement: Unlike removable dentures that may affect speech, dental implants provide a secure and stable foundation for better speech clarity.
It’s important to note that dental implant candidacy can vary depending on individual oral health conditions. Patients considering dental implants should consult with a qualified dentist or oral surgeon to determine the best treatment plan tailored to their specific needs. With proper care and regular dental check-ups, dental implants can offer a reliable and aesthetically pleasing solution for replacing missing teeth and restoring oral function.
Dental implant failures due to smoking
The introduction of dental implants to dentistry revolutionized the way people treated lost teeth. They are preferred by many and are on their way to replace dentures as they are better, more comfortable and appeal aesthetically. Although the high cost of a dental implant is still a deterrent to many, it is a blessing for many who are looking for a suitable replacement for their lost teeth.
Basically, the lost tooth is replaced by an implant which is made up of a material which closely resembles natural teeth. A titanium screw is inserted into the jaw bone to which it fuses (osseointegration). This titanium screw serves as an anchor point which supports the entire artificial tooth. The artificial tooth is coated with hydroxyapatite which is also present in a natural tooth.
Now, coming to the effects of smoking on dental implants:
Studies have found that smoking increases the probability of rejection of a dental implant by the human body. Although rejection of a dental implant occurs in a few cases, smoking increases this risk considerably. This finding is not completely new though. Many dentists have reported lower success rates of dental implants in smokers. Let us now look at the reason for this failure. An ideal candidate for the implant procedure requires good healing and blood flow to make sure the gums heal properly.
Smoking considerably affects the healing ability of the body and reduces blood flow as well. Good blood flow is required for effective healing of the gum tissue. Due to these various factors, the likelihood of rejection of the implant increases. It’s just not the implants that are affected by smoking. Other dental procedures such as tooth extraction and dental fillings (restorations were also affected). The good part is that kicking this habit reduces these effects. The healing ability and blood flow slowly begin to return to normal levels and few studies have shown that normal levels can be regained after several years of quitting.