Modern dentistry offers so many effective solutions to our common dental problems. There are fillings for cavities, crowns to reinforce structure, whitening for brighter teeth and even veneers for correcting shape and colour. As far as your teeth are concerned, it is a good time to be alive!
As wonderful as modern dentistry has been, until recently we didn’t have a true solution to the problem of bone loss in denture-wearing patients. Sure, dentures provided a solution to the appearance of a toothless smile, but dentures remained a source of discomfort and frustration for some clients. This was quite understandable, given what your dentist knows about the bones of the jaw.
Your Teeth and Jaw – An Important Relationship
What you don’t know about your teeth and jaw may surprise you – and make you think twice about resigning yourself to dentures as if it were an ‘easy’ solution to your dental woes. In reality, your teeth are an important part of your jaw’s structural health, and they should be retained if possible.
Your teeth are as alive as the tissues around them, though they appear to be static and unresponsive. Your teeth have blood flowing to them and away from them and they have a direct impact on the shape and profile of your lower face. This is because your teeth are keeping your jaw strong and healthy with each bite your take!
When you take a bite of food, the pressure of the teeth against each other not only breaks down your food effectively, but the pressure sends signals down the shaft of each tooth and into the bone socket that it is housed in. This pressure signals to the bone tissues that this area of the body needs constant reinforcement to support your ability to eat comfortably and effectively. So, the body responds by diverting necessary minerals to the bone surrounding the tooth to keep it resilient to the effects of chewing.
When your teeth are lost or removed, the bones stop receiving direct communication. In as little as 6 months after removal, your bones begin to divert necessary minerals and nutrients away from the jawbone and toward other structures of the body that can make use of this important resource. The result is a jawbone that begins to degrade in a process called bone resorption.
Until recently, dentistry didn’t have a good solution to this pervasive problem among denture wearers. This meant that a denture wearer would often find that their dentures struggled to fit their changing mouth, and required numerous fittings and shape changes over time, that is, until an important discovery was made about titanium.
Modern dentists’ discovery that titanium had unique properties that allowed it to effectively bond with bone tissues! The implications for cosmetic and functional dentistry were huge! Now, dentists have a way to effectively combat the effects of bone loss with dental implants.
Dental implants use what we know about titanium and bone to recreate the conditions necessary for long-term bone health. Your dentist will implant a textured titanium screw into the supporting bone around the tooth or teeth that you have lost. This texture allows bone to more easily bond with the surface of the implant. Once the implant has successfully integrated, a false tooth can be attached to the false titanium root with an abutment. This implant now transfers biteforce pressure into the bone every time you take a bite, preventing bone loss and offering a sustainable alternative to full or partial dentures!
Investing in Your Health
Dental implants require costly materials and expert skill to install successfully, which is reflected in their cost. A single implant comes in at around $3000 in Alberta, while a full set of all-on-four implant supported dentures can be up to $100 000, depending on the complexity and circumstances involved in the process. Although these procedures are costly, it should be noted that implants are expected to last at least 30 years with proper care and should really be seen as an investment in your oral health. With dental implants you will not suffer the discomfort of ill-fitting dentures and the difficulties that accompany them. This can not be overstated, since difficulty with dentures can result in nutrition challenges in the elderly and significant changes in the appearance of the bottom half of the face.
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If you think that dental implants may be for you, talk to your dentist about whether you are a good candidate, and to better understand the requirements and cost of implants for your unique circumstances. Not every tooth lost requires an implant, rather, in some cases implants can be used to support up to three false teeth (pontics).
If you have questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today.