It’s that time of year again where family gets together to eat, drink, and impress one another with the year’s accomplishments. Maybe your sibling got that promotion, maybe your cousin published that book, and maybe you’re feeling less impressive for more than one reason. Perhaps you lost a few teeth.

Feeling embarrassed by missing teeth is very common, but even if you’re missing one, two, or more teeth, you’re absolutely not alone. In fact, it’s more rare to reach adulthood with all your teeth intact. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, it’s estimated that 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, and about 40 million are missing all their teeth. If these statistics offer little comfort, that’s okay. Even if you’ve lost teeth this year (or many years ago) there is something you can do about it: dental implants.

woman hiding her face, peeking one eye from between her fingers

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are a revolutionary tooth replacement method with a 98 percent success rate. Even better, they function much like natural teeth and require no special cleaning like traditional dentures.

How do they work? There are two main components of dental implants: the titanium implant and the dental crown. First, the implant is surgically inserted into the jaw bone. Often, we can place a provisional dental crown on the implant right away.  A provisional is more durable and long-lasting than a temporary, but it’s not quite a permanent restoration. Its job is to help your smile look and function like whole while giving the implant time to heal. Sometimes your implant isn’t sturdy enough right away to take a provisional crown, and then we have to give it time to heal. Don’t worry–we still have options to help your smile look whole.

Through a process known as osseointegration, the titanium implant fuses with bone and tissue, creating a connection that mimics that of a natural tooth root. After this process has been completed, your dentist will construct a crown that matches the shade of your other teeth, and because crowns are generally constructed from medical-grade ceramic, it will match the luster of your natural enamel.

Worried that you won’t be able to get implants in time for the holidays? Don’t be. With modern dental implant procedures, you may be able to get an implant and provisional crown in one day. Even if you need to wait before getting the crown, attractive solutions give you a full smile while the implant heals.

Missing Teeth Can Impact Oral Health

Missing teeth don’t simply present a problem with your self-image, they can impact your health, as well. For one, a missing tooth can put neighboring teeth at increased risk of oral health problems. A gap between teeth can create a neat little pocket to catch food debris, increasing the risk of tooth decay. If your missing tooth tends to get food stuck in it, your chances of getting cavities go up. Additionally, a gap between teeth can cause the neighboring teeth to try to fill in the gap, eventually causing a misaligned bite. It’s not just your bite in jeopardy, but your jaw as well.

Our jaw naturally regenerates bone mass overtime. Teeth stimulate the process. If this stimulation disappears, it can cause the loss of bone mass, speeding the visible effects of facial aging. The loss of teeth and bone can contribute to wrinkles and folds around the mouth, weak chin, poorly defined jawline, jowls, turkey neck, and more signs that make people think they look older than they feel.

Are You a Candidate For Dental Implants?

Many patients neglect to ask their dentist about dental implants because they assume they’re not a good candidate. This assumption would be a mistake. A candidate for dental implants must meet three criteria:

  • Have one or more missing or soon-to-be-lost teeth
  • Be an adult whose jaw has finished growing
  • Be healthy enough for surgery

Even if you have advanced gum disease, you can get dental implants. We just need to treat your gum disease first. Sometimes people without enough bone in their jaw might need a separate procedure to build up their bone. We will also talk to you about lifestyle, medical, and other risk factors that can impact your odds of success with dental implants. We will go through all this during your consultation so you can make an informed decision about whether implants are right for you.

If you’re hoping to replace your missing teeth before the holidays, the best step is to contact your dentist for a consultation. They can go over your personal medical history and suggest the best treatment available.

Do you want to learn whether you’re a good candidate for dental implants? Please call 940-322-2252 or contact us today for an appointment with an implant dentist at StarImage Dentistry in Wichita Falls, TX.