How Dental Implants Can Improve Your Quality of Life

Even in spite of one’s best efforts to maintain proper oral hygiene, the loss of a tooth or multiple teeth is a very common problem that many people deal with in today’s society.

According to the American College of Prosthodontics (ACP), it is estimated that 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and more than 36 million Americans are missing all of their teeth.

Tooth loss results most often from extensive tooth decay or gum disease and can lead to health issues such as poor nutrition, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. These issues generally stem from the fact that it is simply more difficult to chew and maintain a properly balanced diet without all of your natural teeth. Even when one single tooth is lost, it is a major compromise to how the system of one’s teeth and jaws, known as the stomatognathic system, is designed to function. Further, those who are missing teeth – particularly a front tooth – are more likely to have low self-esteem and a poor self-image. These psychological effects can often lead to one choosing to avoid social interaction out of fear of embarrassment, or at the very least will cause those affected to hide their smile. 

For the elderly, who are statistically more likely to be missing several teeth or even all of their teeth, social interaction is often centered around meals. If ill-fitting dentures are a concern, as they almost always are for denture-wearers, it can have a major effect on one’s quality of life and self-confidence. If a person’s dentures are loose, he or she may be afraid to smile, laugh, or talk.  Additionally, denture-wearers typically can’t eat the same types of foods they used to like to eat. This often results in the denture-wearer trying to solve the problem by constantly using messy, gooey denture adhesives, which offer only a limited benefit. 

Thankfully, modern dentistry now offers a terrific solution for replacing missing teeth. One of the greatest advancements in dentistry over the past several decades has been the introduction of dental implants. Although the first dental implants were placed as long ago as the 1960s, there have been significant technological advancements since that time and implants are now a very common treatment – so much so that 5 million dental implants are placed annually in the United States, according to the ACP.  Dental implants are extremely versatile and can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or even every tooth in your mouth. They can support crowns, bridges, and removable dentures. 

Dental implants are typically made of titanium, which is biocompatible. They are available in multiple lengths and diameters to fit any number of clinical scenarios. They function by being placed into the jaw bone thereby mimicking the root of a tooth.  In some instances, if there is inadequate bone to hold a dental implant, a bone grafting procedure can be done to increase the amount of bone needed to anchor in an implant.  The method used to determine the amount of bone to anchor in a dental implant is through the use of a CBCT scan (also known as a CAT scan or 3-D x-ray).  

In the case of one or a few missing teeth, once the implants are placed, a crown or “cap” can be affixed to the implant to complete the treatment. When restored with a crown, the implant will look and feel like a natural tooth.  If a person is missing all of the teeth in their upper and/or lower jaw or “arch,” depending on a variety of factors, a fixed (stays in all the time) or removable (the patient can take it in and out) prosthesis can be made to replace all of the teeth in that arch.  

The procedure to replace all of the teeth in the upper or lower arch with a fixed prosthesis is generally known as an “All-on-4” or “All-on-X” procedure.  “All-on-4” implies that an entire arch of teeth will be replaced by a prosthetic anchored to 4 dental imiplants.  “All-on-X” implies the same type of procedure, but using a number of implants greater than 4.  Four implants is the minimum number needed to support a full arch of teeth in a fixed prosthesis. 

In the case of ill-fitting dentures (which are an example of removable prostheses) described earlier, dental implants are an excellent way to anchor in loose dentures. Once a person has lost all of his or her teeth, over time the bone in the jaw will resorb, or shrink, which can cause a denture to lose its retention later in life. Dentures can be affixed to dental implants, which offer tremendous retention and support, help keep dentures in place, help maintain the residual jaw bone and prevent bone resorption, and allow a denture-wearer to chew and smile again with confidence.

In summary, dental implants offer numerous benefits for the individual who is missing one or
more teeth.

The first step for those missing teeth and in need of dental implant rehabilitation is a consultation with Dr. Manduzzi who is experienced and has been properly trained in these state-of-the-art techniques.  In fact, as a result of completing hundreds of hours of continuing education in implant dentistry as well as many successful implant cases, Dr. Manduzzi has achieved his Fellowship in the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, a prestigious, worldwide organization focused on advanced education in the placement and restoration of dental implants.  Call (586) 731-9240 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Manduzzi to get started!