Why Do You Need Dental Implants?

Older woman with healthy teeth eating and enjoying a green apple

The Effects of Missing Teeth

Patients sometimes ask why dental implants are the preferred choice for replacing missing teeth. It’s understandable to wonder – dental implants can be more expensive than alternative replacement options such as dentures and bridges and involve invasive surgery. For anyone wondering why they need dental implants, it’s important to understand the effects of missing teeth, which can have a negative impact on much more than your smile. Missing teeth can affect form, function and overall quality of your oral health.

Shifting Teeth

When even one tooth is missing, the remaining teeth shift over time to fill the gaps. Shifting leads to bite issues, stress on the jaw muscles, and irregular teeth wear. The missing teeth will cause adjacent teeth to move up, down, left or right until they are in contact with another tooth. These teeth that have moved out of alignment are more difficult to keep clean. Debris and bacteria trapped between crooked teeth contribute to gum disease and cavities. By preventing the shifting of teeth with an implant, you are ensuring cleansable and cavity free areas for years to come.

Problems Eating

When natural teeth are missing, it’s more difficult to chew properly. Studies have shown that people with missing teeth tend to develop nutritional deficiencies because they avoid many foods, such as fresh fruits, that have essential nutrients. The missing teeth make people self-conscious about not only the appearance of their mouth but how they are perceived while eating. Missing molars make it harder to chew tougher foods, including red meats, nut and other abrasive foods.

Jawbone Deterioration

This is one of the most critical problems experienced by anyone with missing teeth. The roots of your teeth stimulate the jawbone, encouraging bone growth and stability. When a tooth is missing, the jawbone is no longer stimulated and begins to deteriorate. The bone will break down and lose support each day, week and month that the teeth are missing. Adjacent teeth shift out of alignment, loosen, and can fall out. You are more likely to suffer breaks in the jawbone or hairline fractures over time, as you can lose up to 25% of the jawbone mass within the first year after tooth loss. Implants act the same as the roots of your teeth and signal the body to preserve current bone levels while stimulating new bone growth.

Gum Recession and Periodontal Disease

When natural teeth are missing, the gums around the empty socket begin to shrink and recede. This recession affects the remaining teeth and allows bacteria and debris to accumulate along the gum line. The roots of remaining teeth are increasingly exposed to plaque, tartar, and bacteria. These exposed surfaces are difficult to maintain and often require deep cleanings from your dentist. If not properly cared for, the roots are more susceptible to periodontal disease and decay when exposed.

Negative Impact on Overall Health

The link between gum disease and overall health is firmly established. Periodontal disease increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, dementia, and some forms of cancer. Infections in the mouth’s soft tissues can spread to other areas of the body through the bloodstream. The same blood that circulates through teeth, is moving into and out of every artery, capillary and vein in your body. If the gingival tissues are inflamed, these inflammatory cytokines are moving throughout your body unchecked, waiting to cause other systemic issues.

Prematurely Aged Appearance

Missing teeth contribute to a prematurely aged appearance. Jawbone deterioration and missing teeth lead to a receding chin, a sunken appearance, and loss of facial contours in the cheeks. Commonly referred to as the “denture look”, this appearance ages the average person by at least 10 years, possibly 15 or more years when other factors such as smoking or diet are taken into consideration. All of these add years to the way you look and can be easily prevented with dental implants.

Low Self-Esteem

Missing teeth are linked to how a person feels about themselves. They become self-conscious and may try to hide their smile behind their hands or even stop smiling. Others may see you as stand-offish or unpleasant if you do not smile or talk around them due to missing teeth. It creates a cycle of others perceiving you poorly and your own lack of self-confidence due to your appearance. This is a negative feedback loop which can have serious consequences on a person’s mental health. Certain implants are capable of attaching to dentures and dramatically improving one’s overall appearance and smile.

How Dental Implants Help

Dental implants replace not only the visible portion of the tooth but the root as well. The artificial root, usually a titanium or zirconia screw, prevents jawbone deterioration and encourages the growth of new bone for a strong jaw which is less susceptible to breakage. The replacement teeth supported by the implants maintain the contours of the face and make eating, drinking, and speaking more comfortable. Dental implants minimize the risks of gum disease and cavities because any remaining teeth cannot shift out of alignment. As a result, gums are less likely to recede, and the teeth are easier to keep clean.

If you have one or more missing teeth, dental implants are the only permanent solution that helps prevent all the problems outlined above. They are also more comfortable and fit better than dentures or bridges, which address only few missing teeth issues.

Contact our office at Lombard IL Cosmetic Dentistry Office Phone Number 630-627-1495 to learn how Dr. Forcioli and the staff at Forcioli Family Dentistry can restore a gorgeous, healthy smile with dental implants. We look forward to seeing your smiling face soon!