When it Comes to Your Smile Don’t Settle for Second Best
By Dr. Farid Noie
Did you know that not long ago, dentures were common wedding gifts in the British Isles because many people expected to eventually lose all of their teeth and expedited the process by having them extracted at an early age.
Dentistry has come a long way since then. Today, we know a lot more about the diseases of the mouth. We understand what causes tooth decay and more importantly, what are the leading causes of tooth loss.
Thanks to a nationwide dental education campaign in public schools and availability of fluoride in city waters, tooth decay is on the decline. Even when tooth decay occurs, we have become very efficient at restoring them. With the new radiation technology we can detect them much earlier than before. Also, thanks to the new advancements in restorative dentistry we can preserve a tooth no matter how badly it has been decayed. Gum disease, however, is another story. According to a survey by American Dental Association, today, most tooth loss in people under 35 years of age is caused by accidental trauma while the number one causes of tooth loss in people over 35 remains periodontal disease.
If you, like millions of Americans, have lost one or more teeth due to accident, gum disease, or just bad genes, you may be all too familiar with the unpleasant consequences of missing teeth. For many, missing teeth lead to an unattractive smile, pain or difficulty with eating. Traditional dentistry can provide replacements for missing teeth using bridges, removable partials and dentures; however, each of these options has serious consequences. We now know that the most serious consequence of losing teeth is the loss of bone volume that follows. Over the years that bone loss can be very significant. Other advantages of dental implants are:
Dental implants can eliminate the numerous embarrassing inconveniences of removable partial and full dentures. You will eliminate the use of gooey denture adhesives that must be re-applied throughout the day. You will no longer need to cover your mouth when you laugh or smile, for fear that your teeth will pop out or fall down.
Partials and dentures can, at times, be very unstable and lead to denture sores or speech difficulties. Dental implants eliminate the pain and discomfort of removable full or partial dentures. Since dentures sit on top of the jawbone and gums, continuous shrinkage of the jaw bone gradually alters the fit of the denture resulting in loosening (slipping or rocking) of the dentures. Exposed nerves and irritation of the gum tissue (sore spots) may add to the discomfort. Implant supported replacement teeth are like natural teeth because they are anchored securely, just like your natural teeth.
With ill fitting dentures, the teeth slip and slide around the mouth. The facial muscles become tense in an attempt to hold the teeth in place. This often results in mumbling, slurred speech or clicking noises. Dental implants allow you to speak with confidence in a relaxed and natural tone.
The average denture patient with an excellent fitting denture eats at 15-20% efficiency when compared to a person with natural teeth. As the jawbone shrinks, your chewing efficiency is reduced even more, making it difficult to eat certain foods. Dental implants can restore chewing efficiency comparable to that of natural teeth. This allows you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain, enjoy what everyone is eating and not think twice about it. A full upper denture covers the palate of the mouth and reduces the ability to taste foods. With dental implants, you can have the palate removed from your upper denture so you can taste and enjoy your food.
Another little known problem associated with tooth loss is a process known as “atrophy,” a shrinking of the supporting bone that can progress relentlessly over the years. Bone atrophy not only affects jaw function, but can cause adverse facial cosmetic changes When teeth are lost, ongoing shrinkage of the jawbone occurs, making the face look older. Dental implants can slow or stop this process.
Protect Your Remaining Natural Teeth
Bridgework usually involves altering (cutting down) precious natural teeth. Besides, since bridged teeth are connected; it is more difficult to floss and clean between the teeth. If one of the teeth underneath the bridge decays or gets damaged, the entire bridge will be compromised and must be replaced. Dental implants spare the adjacent teeth and won’t decay like natural teeth. They look, feel, and function like your own natural teeth.
Improved Self Esteem
Aside from all other benefits, dental implants can improve your self-esteem. You can even clean your dental implants just as you would your natural teeth. There are no special instructions or formulas to follow. Just use them like you use your natural teeth.
Dr. Noie has been in private practice in the Bay Area since 1996. He is a Diplomate of Int’l Congress of Oral Implantologists, Fellow of Academy of General Dentistry, and Assoc. Fellow of American Academy of Implant Dentistry. He has completed his surgical training at New York University as well as Medical University of South Carolina, Temple University, and Wright state University School of Medicine. He completed his oral Anesthesiology training at University of Alabama in Birmingham. He is a member of American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. For more information, visit www.drnoie.com