A gap-toothed grin can be adorable in a small child, but when it comes to adults, the effect is decidedly less charming. In fact, missing one or more teeth is far more than an aesthetic concern as its absence can affect the entire health and function of your mouth. That’s why over 3 million Americans have turned to dental implants — and this number continues to grow by a whopping half million each year.
At District Cosmetic Dental, Dr. Shaun Alex offers dental implants to his patients in the Washington, D.C., area, not only restoring their smiles, but their ability to speak and chew normally.
If you’d like to explore why so many Americans have chosen dental implants to replace missing teeth, here’s what you need to know.
When your baby teeth give way, the adult teeth that follow are designed to provide you with a lifetime of service. That’s the goal, in any case. But accidents happen and teeth get knocked out. As well, gum disease, left unchecked, can wreak havoc on your teeth, causing them to deteriorate to the point where they present more of a liability than an asset.
And this condition is far from uncommon — 35 million Americans are missing all of their teeth in one or both jaws, to say nothing of the millions more who are missing just one or two teeth.
When you lose a tooth, there’s far more at play than a gaping hole in your mouth. Your teeth work best as a set and rely on each other for support and function. A missing tooth can throw your whole line of teeth off balance for several reasons.
First, you need to go below the surface to see where the real damage occurs. If your tooth is knocked out or succumbs to gum disease, the root that goes into your jawbone is also affected. It either decays or requires removal, which we can perform in our office.
Because your jawbone is living tissue that responds to use, it’s continually repairing and regenerating itself, ensuring the stability of your teeth. Left unused, the bone in your jaw where your tooth once was can start to weaken and atrophy.
This, in turn, weakens the surrounding bone, and your existing teeth can begin to loosen and shift. In the end stages of this process, your jawbone begins to sink inward, which affects your outward appearance dramatically. This also puts your existing teeth in more danger of decay, while also affecting your ability to chew and speak normally.
Mimicking Mother Nature
In the battle to find suitable replacements for your teeth, the dental world has made great strides using crowns, bridges, and dentures. While these prosthetic measures work well to replace your teeth, none truly provides the same stability and reliability that natural teeth do. Until now.
A dental implant is an ingenious solution that mimics your natural tooth, right down to the roots. During the procedure, we implant a titanium post into your jawbone to allow your living bone tissue to grow up around it, fully integrating it into your jawbone.
Once the implant fuses into your bone, we place a crown over the post and bond it into place, giving you back a straight line of teeth that looks and functions just as your natural teeth did.
Dental implants are not only great options for missing teeth, they also provide strong anchors for dental devices, like bridges and dentures, giving them superior stability over traditional bonding methods.
For the long haul
While dental implants are superior replacement teeth for stability reasons, they’re also designed to go the distance with your natural teeth. Because your implant effectively becomes part of your jawbone, it gives you the lifetime of service that your natural tooth wasn’t able to provide. There may come a time when you have to replace the crown, which we can do very easily, but the implant is there for the long haul.
To ensure its longevity, you can do your part at home by taking good care of your dental implant, brushing, flossing, and rinsing on a daily basis. This care, combined with your regular visits to us for check-ups and professional cleanings, will give you something to smile about for years to come.
If you’d like to learn more about dental implants, please give us a call, or you can request an appointment using the online scheduling tool found on this website.