By Farid Noie
Recently I was talking to a friend about his daughter’s upcoming cochlear implant surgery. He had some real concern about the decision of the insurance company to only fund placement of one cochlear implant as opposed to two.
Even though I completely understood his frustration, I also knew how important it is for him that she can hear and be able to distinguish and understand the meaning of various sounds before entering Pre-K. I decided to play devil’s advocate and stress the importance of time that would be wasted in the process. He replied that he is also very concerned about the time factor but he said, “The bottom line is that I don’t want my daughter to settle for half. She deserves better.” I couldn’t argue with that. He was right. If technology can help restore the full function of a lost body part, settling for half is not ethically justifiable.
Hours later, while reviewing my conversation, I discovered the parallel analogy between this concept and replacement of missing teeth. As we all know, conventional dentistry did not have a solution for replacement of a missing tooth that would allow restoration of the full range of functions that our teeth provide us, as opposed to addressing only their cosmetic and digestive consequences. Just because we don’t see something, it does not mean that it does not exist or is less significant. After all, we don’t need to see the roots of a tall oak tree to know they are there and extend far beyond the boundaries of the tree’s hole in the ground. The same analysis holds true for replacing missing teeth. We can’t deny existence of roots because without them our teeth would not stay in our mouth. But is it really necessary to replace them? Well, they are as necessary to longevity of our dentition as a strong foundation is to any building or load bearing architectural structure.
Aside from providing surface area to chew our food and the cosmetic and sociological effects of having all our teeth, our teeth also provide mechanical stimulation for the neighboring jawbone, jaw muscles, salivary glands, and gums. This simultaneous stimulation in turn keeps the jawbone dense and strong, the jaw muscles stimulated and toned, and salivary gland stimulated, allowing the presence of ample saliva to help break down food chemically and neutralize the billions of pathogens that invade our oral cavity every single day.
There is little argument in the professional community that the dental implant is the most suitable replacement for our natural dentition. It addresses and replaces all the functions that were performed by the tooth that it replaces. Other traditional options may fill the space but they come at a cost. They have to sit on top of the gum. Imagine replacing a load bearing column in your house with a new post that is not even planted in the ground. It is just being held in place by other posts. It may look identical to the way it did before but there is little question that it is not providing the same function.
Luckily, thanks to dental implants, when it comes to our oral health and smile, we don’t have to settle for half of what we deserve.
Of course not all patients are medically fit to receive dental implants. To find out if you are a suitable candidate, please call Dr. Noie at 281-332-4700 to schedule a one-on-one complimentary consultation with him.
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.