If you’ve ever lost a tooth due to disease, trauma, or some other cause, you know how upsetting the whole experience can be. Our teeth don’t just help us bite and chew — they also help us maintain an attractive, friendly smile, and when one or more teeth are missing, our entire appearance can be transformed. Suddenly, instead of looking healthy and youthful, we can wind up looking haggard and worn.
Missing teeth could be leaving a less-than-ideal impression on the people you meet, work with, and hang out with. Obviously, the solution to all these issues is to replace those missing teeth. And for years, that meant getting a denture or a bridge — two options that, while effective, still tend to leave a lot to be desired.
Did you know alligators can regrow their teeth? It’s true: An alligator can regrow a single tooth up to 50 times. And they’re not the only ones with this enviable tooth-growing ability. Sharks can also regenerate teeth, with some sharks replacing as many as 30,000 teeth in a single lifetime. Considering humans are supposed to be higher on the evolutionary “ladder,” that hardly seems fair. But take heart: Today’s dental implants provide a solution to missing teeth that are more like your own natural teeth. Compared to dentures and bridges, implants are more secure and more natural-feeling, and they’re also designed to function like your natural teeth — and what’s more, that special design may even help you avoid future tooth loss.
Like dentures and bridges, dental implants feature an artificial tooth, or crown, made of durable porcelain that can be shaped and tinted to match your natural teeth, so they blend in beautifully with the rest of your smile. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. While bridges and dentures rest on top of your gums, dental implants use a titanium post that’s actually embedded into your jaw bone. The post acts as a root, securing the crown permanently. The crown and post are joined together by a third piece, called an abutment.
Dental implants are designed to “mimic” a natural tooth, with the tooth portion above the gum and the implant extending into the jaw bone, just like a tooth root. The unique design is what makes dental implants so much more secure than bridges and dentures, and it’s also what makes them feel and function like a natural tooth. But those aren’t the only benefits provided by the implant design. As it turns out, that artificial root also helps promote normal bone growth and replacement in the jaw, reducing the risk of future tooth loss.
Our bones are continually replenishing themselves, replacing damaged, worn, or old tissue with new, healthy tissue. In the jaw, that bone replacement cycle is triggered by the presence of a tooth root. When a root is missing, the bone in that portion of the jaw doesn’t replace itself as rapidly, and over time, the area can become thin and weak. As a result, the tooth roots on either side of the weak area tend to shift and weaken, making those teeth more prone to falling out. Because dental implants are embedded in your jaw bone, they help perpetuate the normal bone replacement cycle, just like a natural tooth root. The implant promotes bone tissue replacement, helping your jaw bone stay strong and supportive, preventing the neighboring roots from weakening. And that means that, with good care (including regular brushing and flossing and twice-yearly dental cleanings), your implant can last as long as a natural tooth.
Having a dental implant may not be as convenient as growing your own replacement teeth (lucky sharks!), but considering the advantages implants offer, it’s no wonder they’re grown to become a very popular alternative to dentures and bridges. To find out more about dental implants and how they can help you improve your oral health and your self-confidence, too, book an appointment online today.