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Why Choose Dental Implants?
The goal of modern dentistry is to restore normal contour, function, comfort, esthetics, speech and health regardless of the amount of atrophy, disease or injury present and to do so in a predictable manner. Traditional methods employed to replace a missing tooth or teeth have included fixed prostheses (fixed bridges) or removable prostheses (complete or partial removal dentures). Dental implants offer an alternative, yet for many, the cost and/or the time needed make it prohibitive. Before you say no to dental implants for whatever the reason, please consider a few things.
As an American population, we are living longer. As we grow older, we tend to loose more teeth. Today as we age we desire to stay fit, active and social while maintaining a high quality of life, which may not be feasible by remaining edentulous or wearing a prosthesis that is retained by denture adhesive.
Maintaining esthetics and a youthful appearance is also desirable. When a tooth is loss, anatomic changes occur resulting in the potential consequence of continued bone loss. Often this bone loss is accelerated when a poorly fitting soft tissue-borne prosthesis is being worn.
Some anatomic changes that may be seen include a decrease in the width of supporting bone, a decrease in bone height, a removable prosthesis shifting and sliding forward, thinning of mucosa (gum tissue) resulting in abrasions or sores under a prosthesis. The patient may experience paresthesias or altered sensations such as numbness, tingling or pain while wearing a denture or partial as a result of the prosthesis resting on the mandibular nerve canal. Other changes include an increase in the size of the tongue, a decrease in neuromuscular control and an alteration or change in the esthetic appearance in the lower 1/3 of the face. Such esthetic changes may include a prognathic appearance, thinning of the lips, or the appearance of “jowls” or a “witchs chin.”
Often a decrease in performance is also associated with a removable prosthesis. For instance, a patient may not be able to chew as efficiently. This decrease in efficiency or performance may result in dietary changes, gastrointestinal disorders, nutritional deficiencies, ultimately resulting in illness, debilitation and shortened life expectancy.
Tooth loss may have a profound effect on ones psychological health. When one is dealing with tooth loss, combined with social anxiety or fear from wearing an ill-fitting prosthesis or fear from not being able to chew adequately or having altered speech, an “oral invalid” or dental cripple may come to pass. These are people who no longer venture out or act social related to real psychological issues.
There is no magic bullet for tooth loss. It is always best to try and retain natural teeth but when that is no longer an option, dental implants do offer distinct advantages over removable prostheses such as maintenance of bone and posterior support, an increase in stability and retention as well as improved esthetics and maintaining esthetics and improved psychological health. Advantages that dental implants offer over fixed bridges include such things as not having to cut down healthy “virgin” teeth (teeth without restorations or fillings) and not being at risk for the development of decay or cavities, unlike natural teeth.
The discussion regarding what tooth replacement option is best for you should be done with your general dentist. The goal is to restore you to optimal oral health in a predictable manner.
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