According to the experts, approximately 75% of adults are missing at least one tooth. This can be caused by a variety of issues and can have a significant impact on your oral and overall health.
Capitol Square Dental understands that a full set of teeth is critical for overall quality of life, which is why we offer tooth restoration options including dental implants. In this article, we'll explain what you need to know about missing teeth and dental implants.
What Causes Missing Teeth?
There are several things that cause missing teeth, including:
Sometimes, permanent teeth never form due to genetic conditions such as cleft lip and palate or Down Syndrome. There are three types of congenitally missing teeth:
- Hypodontia: 1 to 5 permanent teeth are missing
- Oligodontia: 6+ permanent teeth are missing
- Anodontia: all permanent teeth are missing
Gum disease is a condition that causes pockets to form between gums and teeth, ultimately causing tooth loss. Gum disease starts with gingivitis, which is reversible with proper oral hygiene and dental care. If left untreated, it will progress to periodontitis, which requires more extensive treatment.
In some cases, teeth are knocked out due to injury or trauma. If addressed within 30 minutes, a dentist may be able to reinsert the tooth. Unfortunately, due to various reasons, it's not always possible to save the tooth.
There are a few additional causes for missing teeth, including:
- Poor oral hygiene habits
- Lack of access to dental care
- Poor nutrition
- Tooth decay
- Heart disease
- Liver problems
What Problems are Caused by Missing Teeth?
There are several problems caused by missing teeth, including:
Sometimes, missing teeth can cause difficulty and even pain when chewing. For example, missing incisors can make it hard to bite foods, while missing molars can make it hard to chew.
Difficulty with Digestion
In order to make it easy for your body to process food, you need to chew it thoroughly. If you are missing teeth, it can make it hard to thoroughly chew food, which makes it harder for your body to digest.
Your teeth impact the way air flows through your mouth, which can impact the way you speak. In some cases, you may develop a lisp or a whistle when speaking.
Missing teeth affect your bite, which can trigger chronic headaches and migraines.
When you are missing a tooth, the underlying gum is exposed. Simple actions like chewing foods can cause infection to develop in the gum. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the rest of your body, causing significant health issues.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a device that is used to replace a missing tooth. Traditional dental implants are made up of three pieces:
tiny screw that is inserted into the gum and jawbone to create a stable base for an artificial tooth
the connector that attaches the implant to the artificial tooth
sits above the gumline, and replaces the visible portion of the missing tooth
In some cases, patients do not qualify for traditional implants but do qualify for mini dental implants. These are made of two pieces- the implant and abutment are one piece.
How are dental implants done?
Typically, the process of getting dental implants takes several months to a year, depending on how you heal. Here's what you need to know about the dental implant procedure:
Before the surgery
Prior to getting dental implants, you will undergo a comprehensive exam. This will help to determine if you qualify for dental implant surgery. If necessary, we will schedule other procedures such as gum disease treatment, bone grafting/sinus lifting, or extractions.
During the surgery
Once all of the preliminary procedures have been completed, we can move forward with placing the dental implants.
Placing the implant
We start by making an incision in the gum and drilling a hole in the jawbone. Then, the implant is placed and the surgical site will be closed. You will be sent home to allow time for osseointegration to occur. This is the process of the jawbone healing around and fusing with the implant, making it a permanent part of your mouth.
Placing the abutment
Once osseointegration has taken place, you will go back to the dentist to have the abutment placed. The site will be opened, and the abutment will be placed. A healing cap will be placed on top of the abutment to keep the gum from healing over it. In a few weeks, you will be able to return to have your artificial tooth placed.
Choosing your teeth
When the abutment is placed, your permanent artificial tooth will be ordered. You can choose the material and the color.
For the first few weeks after implant placement, you'll want to stick to a soft food diet. If you eat anything that is hard/crunchy or tough, you risk causing the implants to shift- which can ultimately lead to failure. Once the implants are stable, you can go back to your normal diet.
Even though the implants will not decay, plaque can still collect along the gumline. This means that you need to continue to practice proper oral hygiene, which means brushing twice daily and flossing at least once, as well as visiting the dentist every 6 months for an exam and cleaning.
Reducing Risk of Dental Implant Failure
Traditional dental implants have a 95% success rate for healthy patients. Due to their size, mini dental implants have a slightly lower success rate. This means that there is a slight chance that your implants will fail. The good news is, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of failure, including:
- Choose an expert dental implant specialist
- Practice proper oral hygiene
- Quit smoking
- Visit the dentist every 6 months for an exam and cleaning
How much are dental implants?
Since dental implants look, feel, and function more like natural teeth than other tooth restoration options, this treatment is among the most expensive. In fact, the average cost for a single dental implant is around $5,000.
If you need to replace an entire arch of missing teeth, it is more cost-effective to choose a hybrid option, such as All-on-4 dental implants instead of replacing each tooth with a single implant. This treatment costs between $12,000 to $25,000 per arch.
Unfortunately, most dental insurance providers classify this treatment as a cosmetic procedure and may not cover it. However, they may cover additional procedures needed such as extractions and bone grafting. Our office staff will work with your provider to determine your coverage. If you do not have coverage or your coverage is insufficient, we offer financing options to help make treatment more affordable.
Schedule Your Consultation with Capitol Square Dental
If you are among the millions of American adults that are missing one or more teeth, it is important for your oral and overall health to have them replaced as soon as possible. The best option for tooth replacement is dental implants because they look, feel, and function more like natural teeth.
Dental Implants FAQs
Dental implants is one of the most common tooth replacement procedures- but at Capitol Square Dental, we know that you may have questions. We are happy to address your questions and concerns at any time. Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions:
Why no dairy after dental implant?
While dairy is good for you, it can be a bad idea following dental implant surgery. This is because dairy can trigger inflammation of the surgical site, which can delay healing. In addition, dairy is also known to trigger nausea and vomiting, which can also delay healing due to stomach acid getting into the surgical site.
Are dental implants safe?
Yes, dental implants have been proven safe for healthy patients. However, complications may occur in patients who have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and others.
Are dental implants painful?
Patients are given local anesthesia to numb the area prior to getting started. This allows you to remain conscious throughout the procedure, but you won't feel anything. If needed, we can provide you with sedation. You may have some discomfort when the anesthesia starts wearing off. However, OTC pain relievers typically help. If necessary, we will provide you with a prescription for a pain reliever and an antibiotic.
How long do dental implants last?
Dental implants are designed to last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. It is important to note though, due to wear and tear, approximately 50% to 80% of dental crowns/bridges/overdentures need to be replaced after about 15 to 20 years.