Dental Implants have revolutionized the way dentists in Oxnard CA can replace missing teeth. Implant therapy offers many advantages over conventional bridges and dentures and in many cases is the treatment of choice. No longer do dentists need to cut down healthy teeth for bridges to replace missing teeth. Cutting teeth down for bridges actually damages the teeth and reduces their long term survival.
The difference in chewing forces in a person with natural teeth and one who wears dentures is dramatic. In the molar region of a person with natural teeth, the average force has been measured at 150-250 pounds per square inch. Certain patients who grind or clench their teeth may exert a force of up to 1000 psi. The maximum force in denture patient is reduced to less than 50 psi. The longer an individual wears dentures, the less force they are able to generate. Individuals wearing dentures for more than 15 years may have a maximum chewing force of 5.6 psi.
As a result of this decreased force and instability of dentures, chewing efficiency is severely compromised. Many patients with dentures will avoid most hard food, some are only able to eat soft or mashed food, and some claim they eat more efficiently without their dentures. Lower intake of fruits, vegetables, and vitamin A in these individuals leads to digestive and other systemic disorders. As a result, these individuals take more drugs/supplements compared to those with natural teeth and better chewing ability.
Also, the reduced consumption of high fiber foods could induce digestive problems in denture wearing individuals with deficient chewing performance. Credible research and reports provide proof suggesting that a compromised dental function causes poor chewing and swallowing ability and digestive disorders, which in turn may favor systemic changes favoring illness, debilitation, and shortened life expectancy.
Several reports correlate individuals’ health and life spans to their dental health. These reports point to significant relationship between dental disease and cardiovascular disease, the latter being a major cause of death today. It is therefore easy to believe that restoring the dental function of these individuals to a more normal function may indeed enhance the quality and length of their lives.
Several studies concluded that the use of partial dentures deteriorates the health of the gums and remaining natural teeth. Individuals wearing partial dentures often exhibit loosening of the retaining natural teeth, heavier plaque retention, increased gingivitis and gum bleeding, more tooth decay, and accelerated bone loss. Dentists and patients should study all these issues of tooth and bone loss more carefully and look at other available options for a long-term solution rather than a quick fix.
Dental implants should be seriously considered as the first option at the time of tooth extraction. Dentists should discuss the benefits of implants with their patients and inform them about the consequences of not having dental implants.
A well-shaped, symmetrical face with healthy looking facial skin needs an intact and healthy underlying bone structure. This is demonstrated well in young adults with intact boney structures. The same is observed in middle aged or even old individuals who have been able to maintain their facial structure. It might be called graceful aging but it is not an accidental phenomenon or due to luck. It is directly related to the state of their oral and dental health. A 65-year-old individual who has been able to maintain all his or her teeth looks much younger than the same age individual who has lost teeth and wears dentures.
The facial changes that naturally occur in relation to the aging process can be accelerated by the loss of teeth and the resulting facial bone loss. A decrease in facial height from a collapsed vertical dimension (distance between tip of the nose and chin) causes several facial changes. The immediate and most prominent change is creation of wrinkles around the mouth. Of equal importance is the thinning of lips. Upper and lower lips loose their fullness. As the vertical dimension progressively decreases, the chin will move forward and create a prognathic facial appearance.
These conditions result in a decreased upward curvature of lips (seen more prominently in a smiling face) and dropping of the corners of the mouth, giving the patient an unhappy facial appearance when the mouth is at rest. The thinning of the lips from lost vertical dimension, underlying bone loss, and loss of tonicity of the muscles involved in facial expression is more pronounced in women. They often use one of two techniques to hide this cosmetically undesirable appearance: either no lipstick or minimum make-up, so that little attention is brought to this area of face or application of lipstick over the vermilion border to give the appearance of fuller lip. Collapse of upper lip due to underlying bone loss and loss of fullness will make the nose appear larger than if the upper lip had more support.
Even though facial muscle tone decreases as we age, this process is accelerated in patients with tooth and bone loss. This loss of tonicity causes lengthening of the lips. Since facial muscles are attached to facial bone, the bone loss severely affects these muscles and their function. The facial skin begins to sag. The combination of a prognathic chin, sagging muscles and skin, long lips, and a large looking nose makes the individual appear prematurely aged.
Since these changes occur gradually, patients are unaware that these changes are from the loss of teeth. Therefore it is the dentist’s responsibility to explain these consequences to patients before extracting teeth and providing all other options at this time. The best time to plan and do implant placement is at the time of extraction and not after. The amount of bone loss in the early months after extraction, will make implant placement much more complicated. It is strongly recommended to plan tooth extractions very carefully and seriously consider the resulting bone loss from tooth extraction and dire esthetic, functional, and psychological consequences.
ADVANTAGES OF DENTAL IMPLANTS
The use of dental implants to replaces missing teeth or as a support for dentures offers a multitude of advantages.
The primary reason to consider dental implants to replace missing teeth is the maintenance of valuable facial bone. The dental implant placed into the bone serves not only as an anchor for the new teeth or to stabilize dentures, but it also serves as one of the best preventive procedures in dentistry. The chewing forces are transmitted to the bone surrounding the dental implant that stimulate bone growth and maintain density and volume. Implants should be placed at the time of extraction to immediately stop bone loss. Delaying implant placement, after extraction, will only cause significant bone loss and eventual complications resulting in the need for bone graft. Research has concluded that most bone loss occurs in the first year following extractions.
Today, replacing a tooth with dentures or bridges is no longer the best option or even an acceptable one. Dental problems associated with these kinds of restorations are not few.
Bridges are anchored to adjacent natural teeth (abutment teeth), and in the process of making them they are drilled to almost half their size. This will obviously weaken them. Often abutment teeth become sensitive and might require root canal treatment. Bridges fail due to weakness and decay of the abutment teeth, which leads to more tooth loss. Therefore we can only consider bridges as a temporary solution for tooth loss.
Dentures are even worse. These removable restorations are bulky, uncomfortable, catch food particles, interfere with speech, are often painful, etc. Both dentures and bridges cause facial bone loss, which is the primary cause of facial collapse and premature aging.
In today’s modern dentistry, the best acceptable solution for tooth loss is dental implant. From the replacement of single missing tooth to extensive reconstruction and replacement of several or even all teeth, dental implants offer the healthiest and most intelligent solution. Some of the advantages of dental implants include:
- Maintenance of Facial Bone – As previously discussed, dental implants prevent bone loss. This is due to stimulation of the jawbone by the chewing forces transmitted by inserted implants.
- Improved Chewing Ability – Dental implants provide a solid and stable foundation for new teeth. Patients are able to eat without worrying about moving or loose dentures.
- Improved Speech and Phonetics – Eliminating bulky, loose dentures, improves phonetics significantly. Dental implants feel like natural teeth and patients actually forget they have missing teeth.
- Improved Psychological Health – Having dental implants is like having a new set of natural teeth. With all the comfort of eating, talking, and socializing without the fear of embarrassment, the individual’s self image is tremendously enhanced.
- Improved Esthetics – By preventing bone loss, often through bone repair and replacement, implant procedures significantly improve facial esthetics.
- Regained Chewing Awareness – Chewing forces are directly transmitted to the jawbone, which helps patient’s chewing awareness. With dentures, the roof of the mouth (palate) and all gum surfaces are covered, which prevents taste and chewing reception.
- Maintenance of Muscles of Chewing and Facial Expression – A sound, healthy bone structure is vital for intact overlying facial muscles. By preventing facial bone loss, dental implants maintain the integrity of facial muscles.
- Increased Retention and Stability of Dentures – Loose, unstable dentures can effectively be anchored to jawbone and provide stability and retention.
These are the main, but not the only, advantages of dental implants.
The goal of modern dentistry is to return patients to a level of oral health that they are accustomed to. Patients who lose teeth and use fixed or removable dentures may be unable to recover normal function, esthetics, comfort, or speech with these traditional restorations.
However, an implant restoration can return the function to near normal. An implant stimulates the bone and maintains its dimensions in a manner similar to healthy natural teeth. As a result, the facial features are not compromised by lack of support. In addition, implant supported restorations are positioned in relation to esthetics, function, and speech to mimic natural teeth. Because implant teeth are not bulky and take only as much space in the mouth as natural teeth do, facial muscles and tongue do not undergo changes.
In the past 15 years implant dentistry has evolved into a predictable treatment model for replacement of missing teeth. Advantages of implants over traditional dentures and bridges make them the best choice for this purpose. Fortunately, the awareness in the general public about dental implants and their advantages has increased significantly. This has motivated many dentists to become more knowledgeable and offer this treatment to their patients. This is very promising and will undoubtedly improve the oral health in the U.S.