Most people understand the importance of oral health, but they often limit good oral health to the teeth and forget what lies beneath. The roots of your teeth are embedded in your jaw bone, which must stay healthy to keep your teeth in place. The jaw bone’s role in dental health is often understated, but nevertheless essential.
Tooth Loss and Jaw Bone Health
The tooth roots penetrate the jaw bone to stimulate it and keep it healthy. They do this by signaling to the rest of the body that the jaw needs nutrients. As long as your teeth remain in your mouth, they will provide the jaw bone with the stimulation it needs to stay healthy. If a tooth is lost, then the underlying jaw bone is no longer stimulated and begins to atrophy. If multiple teeth are lost, the jaws deteriorate and cause the face to sag.
Dentures can’t Prevent Bone Loss
Dentures are often considered the quintessential option for replacing lost teeth, but they can’t do anything to stop bone loss. Dentures act as replacement teeth, but because they rest atop the gums and don’t penetrate deep down, they can’t provide the jawbone with the stimulation it needs. Dental bridges and other tooth replacement options that don’t penetrate the jaw bone won’t prevent bone loss, either.
Dental Implants Restore the Jaw Bone
A dental implant consists of a metal post, a ceramic crown, and an abutment that connects the two. The metal used for the post is usually titanium, but zirconium and similar materials are also used. What matters is that the metal is biocompatible, meaning that the body bonds with it instead of fighting it off as a hostile substance.
The implant post is surgically inserted into the jaw bone and affixed with a temporary crown. Dr. Dose will then assign a healing period to allow the post to bond with the jaw bone in a process known as osseointegration. Once this occurs, the implant will act as a replacement tooth root to give the jaw bone that much-needed stimulation.
Once osseointegration occurs, we’ll call you back to our office for a second appointment to remove the temporary crown and attach the final crown. After that, your implant is ready and will function as a regular tooth. The crown has the appearance and function of the tooth’s upper portion, allowing you to eat and speak normally. The post will act as the root, stimulating your jaw bone. In this way, implants play the role of the entire tooth, as compared to dentures, which cannot do what tooth roots do.
Caring for your Implants
If you receive dental implants, you care for them the same way you would your regular teeth. Brush twice a day, floss once a day and come in for dental examinations and professional dental cleanings twice a year. These appointments allow us to clean your teeth on a level you can’t by yourself, and we’ll check to make sure your implants are functioning as they ought to.
For more information, please contact our office at (503) 765-7300.
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Nicholas Dose, DMD 601 1st Street Suite A Lake Oswego, OR 97034-2370