Losing a tooth is not as uncommon as you think! If it happened to you, then there are many options available to replace your missing tooth. Amongst them, getting a dental implant is the most effective solution.
If you’re curious about dental implants, then keep reading our guide. Along the way, learn the leading causes of tooth loss, how a dental implant can help, and how long it will last.
What Makes Teeth Fall Out?
Tooth loss is more common than we think. Although we associate it with getting older, you can lose a tooth at any age. Here are three of the most common reasons why this could happen.
This is perhaps the most common cause of tooth loss (and the most preventable). Of course, when we say tooth decay, we’re not talking about a one-off cavity that is quickly fixed but an infection that gets all the way to the root of the tooth.
Fortunately, it’s quite easy to prevent tooth decay. Make sure you’re removing dental plaque by brushing and flossing regularly. You should also be seeing your dentist on a regular basis for cleanings and check-ups—this way they can catch potential tooth decay in its early stages.
There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis (the milder form) and periodontitis (the more severe form).
Both types of gum disease occur because bacteria from built-up plaque work their way inside gum tissue, which causes pain, swelling, and inflammation. While gum disease can be treated successfully early on, letting it progress for too long increases the chances that it will destroy the gum tissue. Since your gum tissue holds teeth in their place, damage to it can cause teeth to become loose and to eventually fall out.
Even if your oral hygiene is impeccable, it’s still possible to lose a tooth through an unfortunate accident.
Playing contact sports, running into a wall, and opening that package with your teeth can all cause your tooth to become loose and to fall out. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to be aware of your habits and how they relate to your dental health.
However, accidents happen—in such a case, your dentist will want to replace it with a dental implant. Read on to find out what exactly it is and how it can benefit you.
What Are Dental Implants?
Essentially, dental implants are structures that replace a missing tooth.
In basic terms, a dental implant is similar to a screw that gets inserted into the jawbone. On top of this screw, your oral surgeon will place a crown—an artificial tooth. Because we all have differently shaped and sized teeth, the new crown will be a replica of the tooth that fell out and will feel just like the tooth you lost.
Of course, getting a dental implant involves surgery. For this reason, you will be under local anesthesia throughout the whole procedure. After the procedure, you will need the implant to heal, which means that you will likely be taking painkillers for a few days and avoiding hard foods.
Despite the discomfort, dental implants have an incredibly high success rate and offer many advantages to dentures (which have to be removed every night). Plus, they not only feel natural and comfortable, but can prevent your gums from shrinking.
Different Types of Dental Implants
When it comes to dental implants, there are primarily two types.
This is the most common type of implant. It looks like a small screw and is usually made out of titanium. It gets inserted directly into the jawbone in a two-step process.
The first step involves your oral surgeon making a small incision into your gums and drilling into your jawbone to create a place to insert the implant. Once that’s done, the implant will be inserted into the space.
You will need your jawbone to grow into the implant—a process called osseointegration—which will take at least two months. When your implant is fully healed, you can return for the second part of the procedure, which involves your oral surgeon placing a crown on top of the implant (a quick and painless process).
Although endosteal implants are the preferred kind, not everyone makes a good candidate for them. Some people have bone loss from issues such as a calcium deficiency, which makes it unlikely that they can get an endosteal implant. In this case, a subperiosteal implant may be used instead.
This type of implant is placed on top of the jawbone (but underneath the gums). And instead of using a titanium screw, subperiosteal implants use a metal frame that fits over the jawbone. Like endosteal implants, subperiosteal implants will go through the process of osseointegration, which means the implant will feel very stable.
However, there is one limitation of subperiosteal implants: unlike endosteal implants, they are used mainly for the back teeth.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
With everything that goes into getting a dental implant, you may be wondering how long they last. The good news is that they last, well, forever.
This is because the implants (of both types) bond with the surrounding bone tissue, which means that the implant and the bone fuse together. So, as long as there aren’t any complications, the implant should be there for the rest of your life. In the rare case that there are complications, your oral surgeon can remove the implant and even insert a new one.
However, the crowns placed on top of the implant may not last as long as a lifetime. Due to normal wear and tear, you might need to replace your crown at some point. However, crowns tend to last years, even decades. For this reason, with good oral hygiene, your implant and crown shouldn’t require much further maintenance after the initial procedure.
Factors That Affect the Life of Your Dental Implant
Of course, getting a dental implant is not something to be taken too lightly as it’s not only a surgical procedure, but also something that requires aftercare and long-term maintenance.
In rare cases, it’s possible for a dental implant to cause symptoms that indicate an underlying issue. These symptoms can include wobbling, pain, or redness.
However, there is much you can do to prevent this from happening in the first place. Here are some of the main factors that can affect your dental implant.
Poor Oral Hygiene
It may seem that since a dental implant isn’t your actual tooth, it doesn’t require as much maintenance. However, in this case, oral hygiene is just as important (if not more important).
Without proper oral hygiene, your new implant can accumulate plaque, which can lead to gum disease. When implants are involved, gum disease is called peri-implant disease.Although peri-implant disease can be addressed early on, leaving it untreated can lead to implant failure, which might mean having to remove it.
For this reason, it’s important to perform the same oral hygiene that you would with your regular teeth, which involves thorough (but gentle) brushing and flossing. In addition, it’s important to visit your dentist regularly to check up on your dental implant.
Although this could be included under oral hygiene, smoking deserves a category all on its own. Smoking causes more plaque than normal to build up, which is the leading cause of gum disease. In addition, smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the blood, which means your teeth and gums get less nutrition.
As far as dental implants go, studies show that those who smoke have a much higher chance of experiencing complications. This can probably be attributed to the fact that smoking prevents wound healing, which can make it difficult for the implant to fully heal. However, due to the various negative effects of smoking, there can be many reasons why this is the case.
Dental implants need to be firmly rooted into your jawbone, which is why patients with bone loss are not candidates for endosteal implants. However, it’s possible to get a dental implant and to begin to experience bone loss after.
There are numerous conditions that lead to this, the main one being osteoporosis. But even unexpected associations with bone loss have been made, such as taking SSRIs, which are thought to reduce bone density.
Last but not least, implant failure can occur in anyone whose immune system doesn’t recognize the implant and treats it as a foreign invading body. Some medical conditions make this more likely, which includes diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and weakened immunity. In this case, it’s important to visit your dentist for regular follow-ups and to catch any potential problems early on.
Tooth loss is not uncommon and can result from both lifestyle factors and traumatic events. If tooth loss occurs, then it can be effectively remediated with a tooth implant—a permanent replacement of your natural tooth. If you’re considering a dental implant, then let Flossy connect you to the best oral surgeon in our wide network of professionals—for the highest quality and lowest prices.