Of all the advances in dentistry over the past couple of decades (and there have been quite a few), dental implants have emerged as one of the most popular. Implants provide plenty of men and women with a more comfortable, more secure, and a more natural alternative to dentures and bridges, and thanks to improvements in technology and materials science, they’ve become a lot more affordable as well.
At Eagle River Dental, we offer dental implants crafted using the most advanced technology for a solution that looks great and functions more like your own natural teeth. But as much as they can improve the way your smile looks after losing one or more teeth, the cosmetic benefits of dental implants is just part of the story. As it turns out, they can do a lot for your oral health as well.
Benefits of dental implants
About 120 million men and women in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth, and about 36 million have no natural teeth, according to the American College of Prosthodontists. Some of those teeth have been lost due to decay or trauma, and some people simply never “grew” all their teeth to begin with. A large number of those people lost their teeth due to gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss among American adults. But no matter what causes tooth loss, one thing’s for sure: If you don’t replace that missing tooth, you can wind up with a lot of other problems down the road.
The first and most obvious problem associated with tooth loss is the cosmetic factor. When you’re missing even one tooth, you tend to look older and more worn out, and you probably look like you don’t take very good care of yourself. Losing a tooth as an adult can be a pretty traumatic experience, and most people missing a tooth (especially a very visible one) tend to lose some of their self-confidence as well.
But in addition to the aesthetic considerations, when a tooth is missing, it can also throw off your normal bite balance. Your teeth are designed to work in pairs — upper and lower working together. When one tooth is gone, it throws off that balance which can lead to headaches, jaw pain, chronic grinding (bruxism), and even temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD). When you’re missing several teeth, it can start to interfere with eating, and that means you might not be getting all the nutrients you need to support overall health.
The domino effect
There’s one more problem that can develop once you lose a tooth, and many dental professionals refer to it as the domino effect. That means that when you lose one tooth — and you don’t replace it with an artificial tooth — your risk of losing additional teeth increases significantly. Once again, it’s due to the interrelationships between all your teeth. When even a single tooth is lost, it leaves excess space in your jaw — the space once occupied by the missing tooth. If you don’t replace that tooth, the roots of the neighboring teeth can start to shift outward, weakening their own attachments and eventually increasing the likelihood they’ll fall out as well.
You can combat that shift with a denture or bridge, but here’s where implants really shine. Your teeth are anchored into your jaw bone, and that bone tissue is constantly renewed and replenished. As it turns out, your teeth roots actually play a big part in bone replenishment, stimulating bone cells to regrow as old cells die off. When a tooth is lost and that root is gone, that cellular stimulation is also lost, and that’s why over time, the bone in that part of your jaw tends to become very thin. As a result, support for neighboring tooth roots diminishes, making it a lot more likely those teeth will fall out as well. Dentures and bridges can’t stop that process, but implants can. Because they’re embedded in your jaw bone, they act like a natural root to keep bone replenishing itself, helping to preserve your other teeth and prevent future tooth loss.
Learn how implants can help you enjoy better oral health
If you’re missing one or more teeth, dental implants could be a great option to help improve the look and function of your teeth, as well as improve your overall oral health in the future. To learn more about dental implants at Eagle River Dental, book an appointment online today.