Elegant Solutions for Missing Teeth
Missing teeth lead to “edentulism,” also known as the complete loss of teeth. Edentulism can reduce a patient’s quality of life, self-image, and daily function. Even with all the improvement in dental health over the years, complete tooth loss is still a big issue. In the U.S., a lot of adults ages 65 through 74 have lost all of their teeth.
Patients with missing teeth suffer a reduced quality of life, nutritional problems, and digestive tract issues. While untreated gum disease and tooth decay are direct causes of tooth loss, the lack of dental education and exposure to fluoride play a role.
Missing Teeth = Bone Loss
The problem of tooth loss is bone loss. When teeth are missing, the stimulus necessary to keep the jawbone healthy disappears, and the bone itself shrinks or resorbs. Also, when pressure is transmitted by traditional removable dentures through the gum tissues to the jawbone, it accelerates bone loss.
Bone loss can be minimized during the tooth removal process by using bone preservation technique. Bone can also be added by using a bone graft, which is bone powder from either a human or an animal. Bone grafting is a simple procedure that acts as a matrix for the body to build and maintain its bone.
Also, bone loss can be prevented by strategically placing as few as two dental implants. Dental implants transmit biting pressures through the implants instead of directly onto the bone like the pressure from traditional dentures.
Elegant Solutions for Missing Teeth
Traditional removable dentures can be challenging for both the doctor and patient. A great deal of art and experience goes into their creation, and the ability to wear them comfortably takes time and practice. When they are made well, they can be an affordable option for restoring aesthetics.
For the edentulous patient, dental implants offer many advantages. They can be used to support bridges or dentures. While a traditional removable denture presses on the gums and leads to bone loss, implant dentures result in twenty times less bone loss.
An implant denture is more stable than a denture that rests on the gum tissue. Removable dentures without the support of dental implants makes it difficult for a patient to chew. Research shows that 29% of denture wearers are only able to eat soft or mashed foods. This can lead to poor nutrition and digestive tract issues. On the contrary, implant dentures function the same as natural teeth leading to an improved diet.
There is a small percentage of patients that cannot tolerate a removable denture of any kind. They tend to dislike having the roof of their mouth covered. For these patients, a hybrid prosthesis, also known as an implant-supported permanent bridge, is a good alternative. This option sometimes called a permanent denture but this is not the correct description. This option should not be called a permanent denture as this option is not removable. Multiple dental implants support the permanent bridge, so the roof of the mouth does not need to be covered. All missing teeth are replaced, and the face and lips are supported. The great part is that you would have a gorgeous, elegant smile.
Preparing the Way:
Replacing Missing Teeth
Unless a patient is ready, the transition to dentures can be traumatic. When the loss of all of one’s teeth is foreshadowed, pre-planning can minimize trauma and enhance acceptance. One way to enhance patient’s acceptance is to fabricate transitional or immediate dentures. Transitional dentures can be fabricated ahead of time in anticipation of tooth loss so that at no time is one without teeth. Also, transitional dentures facilitate the healing process, by protecting the tooth sockets after tooth extraction. There will be jawbone loss as the tissues heal, most of which occurs in the first year. Thus, the transitional dentures will need to be relined after 3-6 months or remade.
Ensuring Denture Success for Patients with Missing Teeth
A helpful guide for making aesthetic and functional dentures is your old teeth. Your natural or temporary set of false teeth can help you decide what features you want in your dentures. Photographs can also help in this process as they provide a glimpse of how you used to look, want to look, or how you want to change your appearance.
There are several theories on where to place each tooth in a set of dentures. Facial features are used as landmarks, and old photos can also help with this process. Several considerations are taken into account when creating dentures: How big should the teeth be and how much should show when the patient smiles? How much space is there between the upper and lower teeth at rest? The most important part of complete dentures is the patient’s bite. The upper and lower teeth must contact to allow for biting, chewing, and talking.
Setting your dentures is as much an art as it is a science. The amount of gum tissue that shows when a patient talks or smiles depends on the position of the lip. Several colors and textures can be added to give the appearance of real tissue. Since there are a variety of options that will work, your dentist will use an artistic eye to achieve your ideal smile.
If you are interested in treatment for your missing teeth, give one of our offices a call today, or schedule your consultation online.