Accidents happen. But, when they involve front teeth — your “smiling” teeth, an accident (or injury) can leave people with a lifelong ordeal.
While cuts, bruises and broken bones heal, permanent teeth that are “knocked out” don’t. Lost teeth are truly a loss. Upper teeth that are most visible in a smile seem to be the most vulnerable, whether a vehicle collision, contact sports injury, or fall.
As with any tooth loss, the goal, especially with a smile’s appearance, is to replace them. However, the type of tooth replacement you select will determine some very important issues for now and in the future:
• Does your tooth replacement choice restore your ability to bite with stability?
• Will the selected replacement option be detrimental to neighboring teeth?
• Can this tooth replacement provide a natural look and feel?
• What does my choice to replace teeth mean for my smile and oral health in the future?
Let’s first address the importance of replacing the tooth or teeth that were dislodged.
When a tooth is lost, this open gap is more than a deterrent to the appearance of a smile. Its ability to support neighboring teeth to maintain their proper positions is also lost. It doesn’t take long for the teeth on either side to lean inward into the empty space or tilt out of position.
When teeth drift, the result can be a higher risk of damage to surrounding teeth. This includes teeth that become chipped, broken, or fractured. When the fit of the bite is disrupted, it can also lead to night-time clenching and grinding. Bruxism, as the grinding motion is known, can result in worn teeth, and worse.
Bite misalignment can cause problems that involve the jaw joints, or TMJ. Typical problems associated with the TMJ are headaches, migraines, ear ringing, dizziness, jaw popping, sore jaw joints, difficulty opening the mouth fully, sore facial muscles, and even aching neck and shoulder muscles.
When the bone mass declines, the tooth roots adjacent to the area of bone loss are at risk. This tends to trigger a whole new set of problems.
Each tooth has roots. The roots are held in the jaw bone, which provides support and stability for biting and chewing. When tooth roots are missing, the bone no longer receives stimulation or nourishment once provided by the tooth roots. The result is a shrinking of the bone, known as resorption.
As the bone declines in the area where tooth roots are missing, the adjacent teeth have less of a foundation for support. They become so vulnerable that they are at higher risk of being the next teeth to be lost.
Another issue has to do with appearance. When bone loss of front teeth are involved, it can even reveal itself in a not-so-flattering way. For example, front teeth replaced with crown-&-bridge combinations replace the appearance of teeth without tending to the supporting bone structures. Thus, the shrinking bone eventually reveals a telltale gap between the bridge and the gums.
The bone loss continues and puts added strain on the two crowned teeth that are serving as abutments for the bridge. Which leads to yet another concern regarding your remaining teeth. Crowning teeth to serve solely to support a bridge compromises the structure of otherwise healthy teeth. This means they will forever need crowns and are at risk of also needing root canals.
Obviously, the need to replace missing teeth is important. Now comes the decision of how you replace it.
For many, the ideal replacement option is with a dental implant. As a dentist in Shelby Twp for nearly 25 years, I know the tremendous advantages of an implant when it comes to appearance and function. Yet, I also “see” the benefits of an implant below the gums as being a significant bonus, which people are often unaware.
Although a crown-&-bridge or partial can replace a missing tooth or teeth, they do not replace the presence of a tooth root. Dental implants are able to do this, halting the repercussions of bone loss.
So, why don’t all people replace missing teeth with dental implants?
Some people worry that they will have to go without teeth when having dental implants. This is not the case. Although the implanted portion may require several months to become integrated with the bone, we place ‘temporaries’ to provide a natural looking smile so patients are comfortable during the “healing phase.” While biting bite crisp apples or corn on the cob isn’t possible with temporary crowns, the limitations are easily managed for most patients.
For some people, the only obstacle is cost. While dental implants may seem more expensive, the investment is one that is designed to last a lifetime. With proper care, your dental implants should last as long as you do! Through easy, interest-free payment plans, our financial coordinator has helped hundreds of implant patients manage the fees without straining their budget.
We also help to minimize dental implant costs through strategic implant planning and placement. With advanced skills in implant dentistry, we are often able to place one dental implant that supports two or more replacement teeth. Since implant treatment costs are based on the number of implants used, this helps to keep treatment fees to a minimum.
The best time to place an implant?
As soon as possible! When replacing a newly lost tooth, we may be able to insert the implant into the existing socket. This minimizes the placement procedure so healing time is reduced. Additionally, rapid replacement also allows us to better preserve the natural contours of the gum tissues. This can eliminate the need for reshaping gum tissues to restore the natural arch and ‘dips’ of gum tissues that arch each tooth.
When it comes to replacing teeth, remember – the need to do so is clear. How you do so is up to you and we support our patients in whichever method they choose.
In all procedures, patient comfort a high priority. For fearful patients or those who just want added relaxation during long appointments, we offer oral or I.V. sedation for total relaxation. Both have an amnesiac effect and quick recoveries. Sedated patients are closely monitored by trained staff and advanced safety equipment.
In addition to a general dentist, I am also a neuromuscular dentist. This means we incorporate measures to help provide optimal bite alignment into implant, restorative and cosmetic procedures.
While accidents happen in nearly every life, let’s hope your smile is never involved. If it is, we are here to restore your smile AND your oral health through advanced technology, techniques and materials. And, regardless of how you lost teeth, we want to make replacing them a comfortable and successful process.
Begin with a free, private consultation. During this time, we can discuss your options to replace them. In our Shelby Township dental office, I’ll answer your questions and discuss comfort options. We can also have our Financial Coordinator discuss estimated fees and payment plans, if desired.
Call 586-739-2155. Or, tap here to begin.