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Revisiting the Subject of Implants

Implants are the closest thing we have to replacing teeth. Someday dentists hope to grow new teeth for people but sadly that is not yet available. So what can implants do for you? Well the obvious thing is to simply replace a tooth that was lost to decay, gum disease, or cracking. If one of these has happened, or you know you have a tooth that needs to be pulled, do not despair! Replacing the tooth with an implant will restore function to the same or nearly the same as before you lost the tooth.

Some people occasionally ask us since they don’t have beautiful teeth if we can just pull them all and give them new teeth. This really isn’t the point of implants. Instead, dentists will use crowns or veneers to make the teeth pretty. If there are missing teeth and teeth that don’t look great, a combination is possible of implants and crowns.

Now, if you have teeth that don’t look great because they have problems this totally changes the conversation. Dentures, no matter how well done by themselves are HORRIBLE. There are some people who can eat anything under the sun and just love them but they are a unicorn in rarity. Implants are a huge blessing for denture wearing patients. Implants can be used several ways for people totally without teeth on either the upper, lower, or both.

One way is to make a denture and instead of having it float around like a hockey puck in your mouth, we give it the ability to attach to an implant. This can make dentures work. Another option is making a bridge on top of implants for a treatment that is almost like getting your teeth back. After doing something like this most people will have more beautiful and better functioning teeth than they have had for a long time, or possibly ever.

You can live a happy life without a tooth or even any teeth. People in third world areas live without teeth for decades. While this is possible having a missing tooth causes problems. When a tooth is missing beyond the obvious esthetic issues there are two functional issues that arise as well. Movement of teeth and loss of bone. As a tooth is missing progressively bone is lost that can lead to a space where no replacement is possible. Teeth like to have friends. When a tooth is pulled the opposite chewing partner of the tooth will start to come down (or up) trying to find a partner to chew with. Often with time this makes the replacement of that tooth difficult and may even result in the need to pull the opposite tooth and do two implants when a single timely implant would have worked earlier in life.

Missing all your teeth, even with a denture, poses significant problems with chewing. Studies show that patients with either dentures or no teeth live 10 years less than people with the same health issues. Also people that don’t have teeth or simply dentures take 20% more medications. Teeth do matter. People who have replacement with implants or supported denture with implants revert to being similar to people with teeth.

Lack of teeth is not just an annoyance it can compromise esthetics, function and even health.

At Davidson Family Dentistry, we strongly believe in implants as a solution to lost teeth.  However, the cost of placing implants in the office of a specialist (usually an oral surgeon) made it restrictive to many patients of modest means.  We have made it a priority to start doing all steps of the implant process in our office so that implants are a more cost effective solution for all our patients. Dr. Michael Davidson has recently completed his training in implant placement and has started to place implants for our patients.  The placement can be done with or without the addition of IV sedation.  The restoration of the implant, will continue to be performed in our office by the dentist preferred by the patient.

So if you were holding off on doing an implant because of cost, timing, or the fear of going to someone new, now is the time to rethink what an implant can do for you.

Making smiles happen,

Your Davidson Family Dentistry team

Posted June 20th, 2016