If a tooth has deteriorated to the stage where extraction is unavoidable, what happens next? Your dentist will undoubtedly have some ideas, and dental implant treatment is likely to be at the top of the list. Implants are unbeatable when compared to other forms of tooth replacement. The implant bolt is placed in your jaw, and once it has healed, a prosthetic tooth will be attached to it. Not only does this method give you functional tooth roots and replacement teeth, but in doing so, also preserves the health of your jaw. Why is this important?
The Alveolar Ridge
Your teeth protrude from a part of your jaw called the alveolar ridge. This bone is especially dense, which allows it to support the ongoing bite pressure experienced by your teeth. Once a tooth is lost (whether by accident or manual extraction), the section of your alveolar ridge that held the tooth will undergo changes.
Loss of Density
The bone needn't retain such a high level of density when no tooth is present. This means that the various nutrients that your body uses to maintain bone density (primarily calcium) aren't fed in such high concentrations to the section of your alveolar ridge where the tooth used to be. The affected part of your alveolar ridge then loses some density.
Hollow and Sunken
A considerable amount of density can be lost—and it can be up to 50% of the alveolar ridge's overall dimension. Should further teeth be lost in the future, your physical appearance may begin to change. Continued loss of bone mass can result in your face looking increasingly hollow and sunken.
This is in addition to your compromised oral health. Without replacing missing teeth, there is elevated wear and tear on your remaining teeth, which will speed up their deterioration. For some patients, the loss of a tooth can set off a cascading effect that can prove to be disastrous for their dental health.
Replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant is the only way to prevent a reduction of your alveolar ridge's density. The insertion of the implant means that the bone continues to be stimulated by the bio-mechanical forces emanating from the tooth—even though this tooth is now fake. This ongoing pressure essentially tricks your bone into maintaining its mass. Other tooth replacement methods (such as dentures and dental bridges) sit above the gums, with no anchorage in your bone, which means that bone loss will continue despite the addition of the dental prosthesis.
It's always in your best interests to replace a missing tooth, and dental implants are not only effective replacements but also help to preserve the health of your jaw.
Speak to your dentist to go over dental implant treatment details.