When women begin to show signs of aging, including the development of fine lines and wrinkles on the face, they may worry about the need for plastic surgery. However, many women do not realize that the changes in their facial appearance may not be due to skin laxity alone, but due to tooth loss and the use of full dentures.
How do traditional full dentures impact a patient’s facial appearance?
Tooth loss occurs in millions of Americans each year and may occur due to trauma, disease, or manual extraction. When these issues arise, many patients turn to prosthetics such as dentures. In fact, according to the American College of Prosthodontists, approximately 90 percent of individuals who have lost one or more teeth turn to dentures for repair and to restore function to their smile. While dentures may be an affordable and effective solution for tooth restoration, they can have a negative impact on the contours of the face due to resorption.
What is dental resorption and how does resorption affect my appearance?
Teeth that are firmly in the alveolar bone, or the jaw bone, help the body maintain the bone in these areas to keep the teeth firmly in place. Unfortunately, when teeth are lost or removed, the body believes that the bone is no longer needed. This triggers bone resorption, which may result in partial bone loss in the jaw. The body may also seek nutrients such as calcium from the bone as the body believes that this bone no longer needs to be maintained. The result? A sunken appearance around the
mouth area due to gradual bone loss in the jaw. By using full dentures to restore the smile, patients will experience consistent changes to their jaw as it shrinks. This can result in prosthetics that do not fit or function properly after a few years or even months. Replacement of these restorations over time can become costly for patients.
How can I stop dental resorption from occurring?
First and foremost, patients who have teeth lost or extracted need to speak to their dental provider about immediate restoration. There are many different methods available for repairing the smile after tooth loss, including:
Because most of these do not impact the jaw, patients may still experience bone loss after tooth loss. Fortunately, men and women can use one of these restorations to maintain their jaw bone and keep dental resorption from damaging the facial appearance: dental implants.
How can dental implants keep dental resorption from occurring?
Dental implants are titanium restorations that are commonly used for replacing one or more teeth. These small posts are placed into the gums and jawbone. Because this restoration is newly implanted, the body starts the depositing bone in the area through a process referred to as osseointegration. This builds the surrounding bone to solidify the dental implant into the jawbone to add stability and strength. Once the implant is properly rooted into the bone, it can be restored with various restorations to replace the missing teeth, bringing back beauty and functionality to the smile.
Why are dental implants the best solution for tooth loss?
Aside from maintaining bone density in the jaw and keeping the jawbone from shrinking, dental implants have other benefits that patients can consider as well. These restorations are natural-looking and fully functioning, acting just as previous natural teeth did at one time. They are also versatile, providing a proper foundation for crowns, bridges, or even full dentures. In fact, implant-supported dentures are becoming a popular option for patients experiencing the loss of teeth in the entire dental arch because they eliminate the need for dental adhesives while avoiding dental resorption. Patients have the ability to maintain their youthful appearance longer by avoiding shrunken bone around the jaw area, keeping their facial contours throughout their senior years. Additionally, because dental implants become solidified into the jawbone, they are a permanent and reliable solution for tooth loss.
How implant-supported dentures can offer the best of both worlds
Patients who are faced with tooth loss have several options to consider unless they are dealing with the loss of an entire arch of teeth. Full dentures are often their only choice. Fortunately, patients can still combat dental resorption by using dental implants along with their full dentures. The dentist can place approximately four dental implants along the dental arch, strategically implanted to avoid sinus cavities and to maximize bone growth. Once osseointegration has occurred and the implants are firmly in place, the dentist can then restore the smile using a special full denture that connects with the abutments of the dental implants. Patients will be able to achieve full functionality with their implant-retained dentures by integrating implants into the process, while also reducing the risk of dental resorption.
How can I maintain my youthful appearance with dental implants?
Because dental resorption can occur with long-term denture use, it is essential that patients take the time to speak to their dentist about the advantages of using dental implants as a foundation for implant-retained dentures. Dental implants allow men and women to maintain a youthful appearance by keeping bone resorption from occurring and allowing one to keep their confidence and self-esteem even after tooth loss. Dental implants are the best choice for tooth replacement outside of bone maintenance because they offer improved functionality, taste, self-confidence, and optimal, stress-free convenience.
Who is a candidate for dental implants?
To ensure successful oral surgery, it is best that patients have sufficient bone already available for the implant to hold in place. If patients have been without a tooth replacement option for quite some time, or if they have been wearing traditional dentures for several months already, this bone may have deteriorated to the point that a dentist may not feel comfortable moving forward with oral surgery because of an insufficient foundation for the implant. This is when additional treatments such as bone
grafting may be discussed to build up the bone of the jaw and allow the dentist to proceed with the implant procedure at a later time. Determining candidacy is often done during a physical evaluation and with x-rays to monitor the health of the jaw bone in its current state.
Are dental implants worth it?
Though dental implants are costlier than other dental restorations including dental bridges, partial dentures, and traditional full dentures, they are a wonderful investment for many of our patients. Because of their longevity, patients are able to make an initial investment in their smile but reap the benefits of a permanent restoration that can maintain the jaw structure and eliminate the risk of unwanted bone resorption. This stable, strong, and durable restoration is often touted as the “gold standard” in tooth replacement.
Do dental implants last forever?
With proper care, men and women who have dental implants placed will be able to enjoy their dental implants for life. However, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t at risk of failure due to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, or “gum disease,” is a condition that can develop in the smile due to poor oral health and can impact the foundation of dental implants. Soft tissue loss, tooth loss, and bone loss are just some of the consequences that come with the development of periodontal disease. Bone loss can affect the foundation of a dental implant and cause it to become loose and fail. This may lead to expensive and time-consuming treatments to restore the smile back to its original health and replace the implants in the smile. Because of the risks associated with certain oral health conditions, it is essential that patients visit their dentist at least twice a year. This allows the dental team to provide a cleaning and evaluation, along with early diagnosis and intervention of any conditions that may put the dental implants at risk of failure.
What happens if I don’t get dental implants?
Dental implants are a great option as a foundation for several restorations. If patients choose not to have dental implants put in place and instead consider alternative options such as traditional dentures, dental bridges, or partial dentures, they may deal with the changing jaw structure sooner rather than later. The process of dental resorption starts as soon as a tooth is lost, so with proper maintenance of the smile and the placement of dental implants, patients can combat these unwanted changes and keep their youthful jawline. As soon as patients experience the loss or extraction of a tooth, they need to work with a dental professional to learn about their options and make an educated decision.
What about zirconia bridges?
Another option that patients should consider is the increasing trend of obtaining a whole new smile with zirconia bridges. Zirconia is an up-and-coming material that is more commonly used in dentistry now than ever before. This material mimics the appearance of natural teeth and can provide a more beautiful smile than porcelain or acrylic alone. Patients can have a zirconia implant-retained bridge put in place to combat bone resorption and the “sunken in” appearance that often occurs over time with traditional denture use. Zirconia implants may be used in lieu of titanium implants as it is a more biocompatible solution for many patients. It is also preferred if patients have any allergies to metals such as titanium which may make zirconia dental implants a more desirable choice. Patients can enjoy a whole new smile, including both upper and lower arch restorations, using zirconia as opposed to other dental materials used in the past.
Dr. Walton is readily available for patients in and around Greenwood and Indianapolis who are seeking tooth replacement options that will help them maintain a youthful appearance. Call the professionals of Walton Family, Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry today at 317-885-7006 to schedule your initial dental implant consultation.
Patient presented with missing upper left canine and small shaped lateral incisor.
Treatment consisted of an implant to replace the missing canine tooth, followed by sculpting and shaping the gum tissue with a temporary crown for several weeks.
Finally, a crown was placed on the implant to replace the missing canine, and a crown was placed on the lateral incisor to fill in some of the large void from the missing tooth.
Treatment consisted of opening the collapsed and worn down bite, followed by crowns on the upper and lower arches, and new upper and lower partial dentures (partials) to replace missing back teeth. Treatment time was approximately 4 months.
When a tooth gets decay (a cavity), it starts off very small, and takes quite some time to progress. If the decay is caught very early on in the process, then a very conservative, simple filling can be placed to fill in the hole that was left by the decay. This is the easiest, and cheapest way to fix the tooth. However, as the decay progresses, it destroys more and more of the tooth, and can even grow inward and reach the inner nerve canal, causing pain or infection. When it gets to this stage, the tooth will need a root canal. What a root canal accomplishes is to remove the nerve and blood supply, and rid the tooth of infection, so that there is no longer any pain associated with the decay and infection. A root canal is also sometimes necessary to perform prior to placing a post in a tooth.
Many times after a root canal has been performed, or if decay has destroyed much of a tooth, a crown (cap) will be placed over the top of the tooth. What the crown serves to do is protect the tooth so that you can chew and function on the tooth normally, and the tooth does not break or crumble under the force of chewing. As long as the crown fits properly where it comes into contact with the tooth (an area known as the “margin”), then a crown will typically last for many years. However, if the crown does not fit around the tooth very well or if a gap develops between the tooth and the crown (at the margin), then decay is able form and progress beneath the crown. The tooth underneath the crown is then softened and destroyed from the decay process. If the decay that starts around the margins of a crown is caught early on, many times the small area of decay can be removed and a small filling or “patch” can be placed and the crown can be salvaged. However, if the decay has progressed more, then the crown needs to be cut off of the tooth in order to fully remove the decay and evaluate the tooth underneath.
So, a root canal doesn’t protect against decay. It is done to remove the nerve and blood supply of a tooth and clean out infection. Moreover, crowns (over the top of a tooth) can last many years, but they will not last forever and will need to be replaced at various times, usually due to recurrent decay. If decay is discovered early, it is very easy to fix. If it is found later in the process, then it is more difficult and costly to remedy.
How Dental Implants Can Prevent Facial Bone Loss and Wrinkles
If you’ve suffered tooth loss, you’re among millions of other people who have also dealt with this problem — mostly due to tooth decay, periodontal disease, or injury. When you lose one or more of your natural teeth, a variety of problems can extend beyond just a visible hole in your mouth. Tooth loss can affect not only the look of your smile, but also your ability to bite, chew, and speak. In fact, losing a tooth can cause serious problems due to what’s going on below the gumline.
Years of bone loss can collapse the lower third of your face, which creates excessive wrinkles, sagging skin, and jowls, thinning lips, and a sunken-in look with a “witches chin”. In other words, it can cause your face to prematurely age. Thankfully, that’s where dental implants come in.
The Difference With Dr. Walton
Dr. Walton is an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry and one of the only 877 dentists out of all 196,000 dentists in the USA to hold AAID credentials. He offers a wide range of dental implant (surgical and prosthetic) procedures, including single tooth implants, implants for dentures, hybrid implants, All-On-4 or 6, snap-in dentures, full arch implants, and full mouth reconstruction. To find out how Dr. Walton can help you keep your teeth and face looking and feeling young and healthy, contact our office today.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
When a tooth has been lost, a dental implant can serve as a replacement. They’re actually a replacement for the root or roots of a tooth, and they’re secured in the jawbone beneath the gum line. This allows Dr. Walton to mount replacement teeth or a bridge into that area. Not only does it fill that hole, but it comes with the added benefits of preventing bone loss and the shifting of teeth. Most often they’re made of titanium, which is lightweight, strong, and biocompatible, which means that the body will rarely reject it.
How Dental Implants Preserve Jaw Bone Loss
One of the most unfortunate consequences of premature tooth loss is the bone loss that goes along with that. Bone in the jaw deteriorates where there is no tooth, because the bone requires the pressure of chewing to maintain its density. Just like your muscles can atrophy and shrink when not used, the same thing happens to your jawbone. Moreover, once the bone is lost, it does not grow back on its own.
In the first year after losing a tooth, the bone where the tooth was loses 25% of its volume. As if that wasn’t bad enough, bone loss continues over the years — up to 60% after just three years!
Enter dental implants.
Implants act as natural teeth and provide the stimulation needed to maintain jaw bone volume. Thanks to the implant, the body is “tricked” into thinking that it’s a tooth root, and they not only prevent bone loss, but also stimulate growth. This keeps the bone, jaw, and facial structure intact.
Dental Implants Can Help Keep Your Face Looking Young
That’s important because when a person is missing many or all of their teeth, the face experiences many changes. For example, the height between the chin and the tip of the nose decreases, which causes the lower third of the face to sag and collapse. This also causes excess wrinkles around the mouth, sagging skin, dropped jowls, thinner lips, and a pointier chin (“witches chin”).
And wearing dentures only highlights the fine lines and wrinkles of the face, as they can contribute significantly to wrinkles if they don’t provide adequate support for your lower face. With dental implants, you not only prevent bone loss, but you can also prevent premature sagging and wrinkles of the face.
What are the Other Advantages of Dental Implants?
Along with the benefits mentioned above, there are also other advantages to getting a dental
implant. These include:
Improved Speech: Wearing poor-fitting dentures can cause the teeth to slip within the mouth, which can cause you to mumble or slur your words. With dental implants, you can speak clearly without the worry that they might slip out.
Improved Comfort: Because they become a permanent part of you, implants eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures.
Easier Eating: When you’re missing teeth or have ill-fitting dentures, chewing can be unnecessarily difficult. Since dental implants function like your own teeth, you can eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain.
Improved Self-Esteem: While dental implants give you back your smile, they also give you back the confidence that may have been lost when you lost your teeth.
Improved Oral Health: Dental implants are like a natural tooth, meaning that you can floss around it — it doesn’t rely on adjacent teeth to carry its load. Since nearby teeth aren’t altered to support the implant, more of your own teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health.
Durability: Unlike dentures, implants are very durable. When properly cared for, they can even last a lifetime.
Convenience: Dental implants remove the embarrassing inconvenience of taking out your dentures, as well as the need for messy adhesives to keep them in place.
The Process of Dental Implants
Because dental implants require one or more different procedures, several steps are taken to complete the process, including:
Initial Consultation — First, you’ll meet with Dr. Walton for an initial consultation. Here your medical history will be reviewed to identify any factors that may affect your implant treatment and an examination of the area will be performed to ensure that a dental implant can be placed there. From here, Dr. Walton may gather any other necessary information, like models of your teeth, X-rays, or photographs. Then, after reviewing your findings, Dr. Walton will create a proposed surgical and prosthetic treatment plan.
Tooth Extraction — If the tooth in question still exists, it will need to be extracted. If there’s not enough high-quality bone in which to place the implant, a bone graft may need to be completed during this procedure. That means bone grafting material is placed into the socket, speeding up healing and improving the density of the newly-forming bone. Healing after an extraction and bone graft can take anywhere from 3-5 months before the dental implant is placed.
Implant Placement — After the tooth is extracted, space for the implant is created in the bone. This is a relatively painless procedure, and numbing medication is used to deaden the area. Next, the implant will be inserted into the space created in the bone, where it will serve as an artificial root for your new tooth. Eventually, the bone of your jaw will grow to the implant, fusing it into place — which usually takes a few weeks. Once Dr. Walton determines that the implant has healed sufficiently, he can begin the process of building a new tooth on your implant. This is usually after eight to 10 weeks.
Abutment and Crown Placement — After the implant has healed, an abutment is placed on top of it to serve as a connector between your implant and the new crown. The abutment is tightened with a tiny dental wrench so that it remains in place when you chew. The final step involves placing the permanent crown. This is either screwed into the implant and abutment, or cemented over the top of the abutment. The implant will then function like and can be maintained like a natural tooth. The crown must be brushed and flossed meticulously in order to ensure longevity.
Allison had worn teeth with old fillings. She originally thought she wanted all her teeth pulled and implants placed to replace the teeth. After talking over our options, we decided that the best course of treatment was the most conservative one; this consisted of crowns on the upper arch and a few fillings on the lower arch.
The implant itself is the titanium threaded screw. After this heals, an abutment is placed. Over the top of the abutment, a crown is either cemented or screwed into the abutment. It takes approximately 3-5 months for an implant to integrate into the mandible or maxilla.