Gum disease, if left untreated, often results in tooth loss, leaving many patients to wonder if they can get dental implants. Even gum disease patients who do not develop the advanced form of the disease, known as periodontitis, may want to replace missing or decayed teeth with implants. Is this possible, or will unhealthy gums…
Using Dental Implants To Replace Teeth
The use of dental implants, to replace lost teeth, is a testament to the resilience of a treatment method that has been around for thousands of years. Dental implants are so successful that we are actually starting to change how people view what their options are with tooth replacements. For most people, the idea of tooth loss is limited to people in their older age, a myth that often delays not taking great care of your teeth. The truth is that tooth loss affects people of all ages and all demographics.
The American Academy of Implant Dentistry, AAID, finds that 69 percent of people over the age of 35 have lost at least one tooth. Teeth are critical for multiple functions. First, they are the starting place of all human digestion. Second, they are what we use to enunciate and form words. Third, they are the foundation upon which we base certain social signals like smiling.
All of these make teeth critically important to modern human life. This makes it ironic that we are using a treatment that dates back thousands of years to the ancient Mayans. In the old days, the ancient Mayans would hammer pieces of bone or shell into a person's gums to give them new “fake teeth”. Today, we have divested with the hammers and the shells for modern materials and the benefits of medical science.
However, the basic idea of replacing a lost tooth with an implant remains the same. The teeth we are able to secure, look and feel exactly like the natural teeth around them to the point where, after a while, even the patient will forget that he or she has a fake tooth on a dental implant.
Space Age Material
It is interesting to note that NASA uses the same material to make space objects, including parts of the spacecraft, out of the same material we use to fabricate dental implants. Titanium is one of the most durable and strongest metals that holds application in many places. Titanium can withstand a tremendous strain, including titanium that is in the mouth. In addition to the strength this metal brings to dental implants, it is also extremely biocompatible, meaning that it fuses effortlessly with the bone for maximum stability.
Dental implants serve a dual purpose
Dental implants provide an anchor for the new teeth, also known as dental crowns. The implant helps the crown remain stable and strong. Dental implants also provide the jaw with much-needed stimulation, which under normal circumstances is provided by the root of the tooth. When the root is lost, this stimulation ceases, often leading to a deterioration of the quality and density of the bone mass in the jawbone. Dental implants help the jawbone to regain lost mass.
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