Tooth loss, a common condition found in many of our senior citizens, does not represent a normal part of the aging process. Rather, it is often the result of the antiquated dental philosophy encountered by seniors decades ago that advocated tooth extraction for dental problems instead of saving teeth. Consequently, senior citizens are more likely to have full or partial dentures replacing missing teeth than the rest of the population.
Dentures, especially those that are ill-fitting, can make eating, speaking and smiling a chore. Fortunately, dental implants, a discovery by Swedish scientist and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. P.I. Brånemark has led to a vastly improved quality of life for the many people who suffer from the problems associated with missing teeth.
Dental implants are titanium rods about a centimeter long that are placed inside the jawbone and serve the same purpose as the roots of teeth. After the implants are placed, they require three to six months to connect to the jawbone. Once connected to the bone, dental crowns (caps), permanent bridgework or dentures can be fastened to the implants.
Implants are especially useful when securing loose dentures. Seniors who have worn dentures for years, especially lower dentures, often find that their dentures don't fit as well as they used to. This happens because the jawbone wears down with years of denture use. Implants can be placed into the jaw and attachments are fastened on top of the implant to adhere to the denture. Although there are many different types of attachments for dentures, I prefer magnets. Magnets are very predictable, cost-effective, low maintenance and create a very tight bond between the implant and the denture.
One memorable implant case I did was for a petite Spanish woman in her mid seventies. Her husband came to me upset that his wife could not eat comfortably, and that she had had several lower dentures recently made. I examined his wife and found that she had very little lower jaw bone remaining. I explained that I would not be able to help her unless she had two implants placed in her lower jaw to secure the denture. Although they were skeptical, I eventually had my colleague, a periodontist, place the implants. After they healed, I placed attachments on the implants and magnets inside her denture. When the denture was put into her mouth, the magnets grabbed hold of the implants and enabled her to enjoy eating and speaking normally again.
Use of dental implants has more than tripled in the last 10 years, according to a study by the American Dental Association, and has a high success rate. The cost of implant dentistry is higher than conventional dentistry, and should be discussed prior to any dental treatments. It is hard to overstate Dr. Brånemark's contribution to the quality of peoples' lives, and it saddens me that he has not been honored with the Nobel Prize for what he has accomplished.
Remember, only a dentist can diagnose your dental problems and offer the right treatment plan for you. If you need a dentist, call us at 1-866-970-0441 to be connected with one today.