How Losing One Tooth is Like a Domino Effect
Though it may seem insignificant, the loss of a tooth can cause a cascade of effects that will lead to other oral health problems, meaning more time in the chair and more expense. At Westlake Oral and Plastic Surgery we always make it a goal to first save the patient’s natural tooth structure, but sometimes that is not an option. We can then create a treatment plan to stop the domino effects of lost teeth including the replacement with dental implants.
Your teeth work together in harmony with the bone they are supported by. Your jaw bone relies on a three-part system to stay healthy and robust. From the jawbone, the patient has a tooth root which serves as a middleman between the bone and tooth. The tooth rests inside the root. When pressure is applied to the tooth, it transfers the energy through the root and to the bone. Your bone is in a constant state of rebuilding, and it requires that motion of use that is transferred through the tooth and root to exercise. When the tooth and root are gone, the bone no longer wastes the energy to strengthen that spot and the area atrophies. This starts a cascade of effects.
What patients may not realize is that the loss of one tooth leads to problems with the tooth on the opposite arch. The tooth on the opposite arch no longer has a tooth to make contact with, meaning no pressure is applied. This lack of constant pressure on the tooth will lead to atrophy on that bone as well. As patients lose two, three, or more teeth, the effects on the jaw bone will become apparent. It is best to stop this damage when possible.
A dental prosthetic is an appliance that we use to replace missing teeth. This can include a dental crown, bridge, partial denture or full denture. Any of these tools can improve the function and appearance of your smile. Depending on how the prosthetic is attached, it may not be able to benefit the bone. Traditional prosthetics are anchored to neighboring teeth, to benefit the bone the appliance needs to be anchored to a dental implant.
Restoring Teeth with Dental Implants
A dental implant is the surgical recreation of a tooth root, that middleman that joined the jawbone and tooth together. The implant itself is a titanium or zirconium rod that is similar in shape and size to a screw, with a threaded end on one side and a nodule to attach a device to on the other side. We surgically implant the rod into the bone restoring the tooth root. Once the bone has healed around the implant, we can then attach a prosthetic device. The implant recreates that connecting piece to the bone allowing the bone to grow once again and exercise when we apply pressure through chewing or speaking.
Our team at Westlake Oral and Plastic Surgery can examine the current health of your teeth, review any missing teeth and help you design a treatment plan that will benefit your bone, teeth, and gums.