Losing a tooth is an exciting rite-of-passage when you are young, but as an adult it is a cause for concern. It is also common: most adults will lose teeth to decay, gum disease or injury. Losing teeth not only affects your smile but also impacts your bite and your jawbone. Fortunately, there are options! Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we can address tooth loss with a dental implant or with bridges. We aim to make every process as comfortable and safe as possible, and we will help you to determine which choice is right for you. Here is some more general information about these two options.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends implants as the standard replacement for missing teeth. Implants look and feel like natural teeth and are designed to last a lifetime. However, you do need a healthy jawbone and soft tissue to be a candidate for dental implants.
If an implant is right for you, the first step is to place a titanium implant in your jaw. The implant replaces your tooth root and will naturally fuse to your jawbone over the course of several weeks. Once that is firmly in place, a titanium post will be added to serve as an anchor for a crown.
A bridge is a good option for replacing a few teeth. It involves fusing artificial teeth to a metal frame. The frame is then cemented to supports, which are either implants or healthy teeth covered with crowns. There are limits, however, to how many teeth a bridge can replace. Generally, a bridge is a less-invasive procedure but does not last as long as an implant. The average life of a bridge is 10 years.
There is also an exciting third option on the horizon! Researchers have found a way to grow teeth from dental tissue stem cells. We will delve in to this possibility in our next blog post…stay tuned!
As always, the best way to prevent tooth loss is to practice good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly. However, tooth loss happens. If you have lost a tooth or have concerns about your teeth, please give us a call at 207.781.5900. We are happy to discuss your options as we truly believe that having healthy teeth is an integral part of comprehensive health care.
*Image courtesy of www.health.harvard.edu
When thinking about dental implants, you might assume they’re just like your other teeth. But in the dental world, we treat implants quite differently from your natural teeth, especially in terms of hygiene and care needed. Today we’d like to share with you the differences between natural teeth and implants, and mention a few tools that can help you take better care of your dental implants.
Most implants are made of titanium. This matters because titanium is a uniquely osteophilic material, meaning that it is “bone-loving.” For us, that is important because it means the implant is able to fuse with the bone to which it ultimately attaches, setting up the makeshift “root” of the implant tooth.
Now here’s where implants differ from natural teeth. The gum tissue surrounding implants cannot attach itself to implants as it would to natural teeth. Instead, they attach themselves to the gums by way of an epithelial attachment, aka special cells that attach themselves to the implant, like a microscopic suction pad would. Your teeth have fibers called periodontal ligaments that connect the tooth to the gums surrounding it, but an implant does not.
This difference is the main reason your implant needs special care. Natural teeth and implants both require routine brushing, flossing, and teeth cleanings, but with implants you need to go a step further to ensure the longevity of the implant. As with natural teeth, we want to prevent infection of gums and bones, which means also protecting the implant housed within them.
The bottom line is that plaque must be removed from your implants daily. If plaque isn’t cleaned away daily, you run the risk of developing peri-implantitis, which means that tissues surrounding the implant become infected, resulting in the loss of the delicate gum-bone attachment. If infection spreads to the bone it can be devastating to oral health, possibly progressing to loss of bone or loss of the entire implant.
Rest assured however, there are a number of tools available to keep your implant healthy. Some good tools to supplement our regular cleanings include tiny brushes known as interproximal brushes, as well as implant-specific floss, both of which can be very effective when fitting into the crevices surrounding your implant. There are also small, angled toothbrushes designed to better reach implant surfaces. Water irrigation tools like the Waterpik may also be used to clean implants as well.
Which tools you should use depends on a number of factors, so please give us a call to schedule an appointment for a cleaning and to establish your dental implant’s care regimen with our team!