Tooth loss is a problem many adults will experience at some point in life. Still, the impact of missing teeth is highly underestimated and far from a purely cosmetic problem. Dental implants present a long-term and permanent solution and can greatly improve your quality of life.
Seven problems due to missing teeth
Missing teeth can be the result of trauma, tooth decay, gum disease, or poor nutrition. You can experience a variety of functional and health problems due to your missing teeth. The most common missing tooth problems include:
1. Bone loss
This is when the bone beneath your missing tooth sinks. It occurs when there is no longer an active tooth root in place. This can be very serious and get worse with time. In fact, most of the bone loss occurs within the first 6-12 months after the loss of a tooth. As a result, you could lose even more teeth if you leave it untreated.
2. Shifting teeth
This is when your neighboring natural teeth move to close the gap created by your missing tooth. This can make your teeth crooked, and also make it harder to clean in between your teeth. Shifting teeth can also cause bite problems, destabilize the roots of the adjacent teeth, and be painful.
Missing teeth can lead to speech impairments. This impacts on social interactions and an individual’s self-confidence.
4. Chewing problems
Your chewing ability can also be negatively impacted when you are missing teeth. It is not only painful but missing teeth can also cause you to be unable to eat certain foods and break down food properly. This affects your nutrition intake, your enjoyment of eating, and your digestion.
5. Poor nutrition and health
Over time people with missing teeth or poor prostheses have been shown to be more prone to become overweight and experience poor nutrition habits. In part, this is due to impaired chewing abilities, making one favor unhealthy foods that are easy to chew. In addition, people with missing teeth often experience social discomfort and do not want to expose themselves in public, making them less likely to go out and do sports .
6. Change of facial structure
Without teeth to support your face and mouth, your skin might start to sag, and your facial harmony may be affected. When bone resorption is severe, lips even tend to fall into the mouth. This changes a person’s appearance and makes them look older than they really are. This also has a negative impact on self-confidence.
7. Compromised mental health
People with missing teeth tend to cover their mouths when they smile or avoid smiling altogether. They may feel embarrassed and experience a sense of social discomfort due to their missing teeth. This can lead to progressive social isolation, anxiety, and even depression.
Why get dental implants now rather than tomorrow?
If you are already missing one or more teeth, then you should consider replacing them with dental implants. However, before replacing your natural teeth, make sure to first explore all preservative options with your dentist. Keeping your natural teeth is often the best long-lasting option.
Missing teeth lead to jawbone loss and the longer you wait, the worse the bone deterioration will become. If left untreated, your teeth could shift and you could lose even more teeth.
Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that helps stimulate bone and prevent bone loss. This is particularly true when implants are placed immediately after the extraction of a tooth when the bone height and width can be preserved. Preserving oral bone will help you maintain your natural teeth and facial contours.
Patients with a removable prosthesis like a denture (as opposed to an implant-based prosthesis), may have the impression that all is back to normal, meanwhile the bone is under-stimulated and keeps on resorbing. In fact, those wearing poorly fitted dentures have been shown to experience bone resorption at an increased rate due to the pressure of chewing not stimulating the bone and the blood supply being restricted to the soft tissues.
Severe bone resorption creates situations where the treatment to restore a patient’s mouth becomes more complex and more costly than if this was addressed earlier. Often patients could have been treated exclusively with implants instead of needing bone grafting had they not waited. Delaying dental implant treatment leads to additional unnecessary costs once deciding to go for dental implants. In addition, the more complicated your condition becomes, the more difficult it is to treat and the less predictable the results are.
Top 10 reasons why to get dental implants now
- Let you stay healthy. Avoid difficulties chewing and be able to eat a varied and healthy diet. Having teeth is known to impact life expectancy .
- Make you feel good. Dental implants are comfortable and functional. They are also known to help you feel more confident, at ease to smile and improve your general well-being.
- Improve your speech. Preserving fixed teeth is essential for having good elocution and being able to pronounce words and sounds.
- Stimulate bone and avoid bone loss. Dental implants help to stimulate bone and prevent bone loss.
- Preserve your natural teeth. Some prosthetic solutions like dental bridges rely on grinding the adjacent teeth which damages your healthy teeth.
- Maintain good oral hygiene. Avoid shifting teeth which can make some areas in your mouth more difficult to brush, leading to plaque accumulation and a higher propensity for caries. You care for dental implants in the same way you do your natural teeth, whereas other tooth-replacement methods can be much less convenient to clean.
- Minimize dental chronic pain. If you are having bite problems, chewing difficulties, headaches, or other symptoms that are causing you pain, then dental implants can be a long-term solution for you to relieve your pain.
- Enhance your appearance. Dental implants are the closest tooth replacement you get esthetically to natural teeth. They also lift your facial contours and help you maintain your facial structure.
- Provide a long-term solution. Dental implants have the highest documented success rates out of all possible tooth replacement options. They are also not subject to decay and are made to last many years with continuously increasing survival rates. Must though be clear that personal hygiene is a key factor in the long-term success of the implant treatment[16-18].
- Cost less over the long-term. Dental implants avoid further bone resorption and thereby save money by not needing more complicated and costly procedures in the future.
Why are dental implants so expensive?
Dental implants cost more than other tooth replacement options upfront. However, in the long run, they are cost-competitive and more cost-effective considering the impact on quality of life and oral health.
The total cost of a specific dental implant procedure depends on many factors, including:
- How many teeth need replacing
e.g. number of implants and prosthetic size
- Whether additional procedures are necessary
e.g. bone grafting incl. sinus lifting
- Where the missing teeth are located
e.g. in front the appearance is more important than at the back
- The type of diagnostic tests used
e.g. X-ray or CBCT (3-D scan), facial photo analysis with the diagnostic program
- The specialists, space, and equipment needed
e.g. intra-oral scanner, CBCT, recovery room, sedation, an anesthesiologist
- The practice’s running costs
e.g. rental, insurance, labour costs
A single dental implant costs anything from USD 50 to over USD 450 to the dentist. Some dental implants are more expensive because they cost more to produce, others because they are original products. Click here for more information about implant prices.
As previously mentioned, a dental implant procedure depends on so many factors but in general, it should be safe to say that the cost of replacing a single tooth is in the thousands, whereas the cost of a full-mouth implant-supported restoration is in the tens of thousands.
The quality of the dental implant procedure, however, is very hard to determine by looking at the price. For example, one clinic can use premium products while having low profits, whereas another clinic might use low-cost products and charge a high price (high profit). However, a high-quality treatment certainly involves more costs than a ‘low-quality treatment’. Looking for a better treatment price should always be done with consideration of the treatment value. It’s only through discussing with your dentist and comparing treatment offers that you can better judge the value of a treatment offer.
What you want is the best possible dental implant procedure – that is comfortable, aesthetic, and long-lasting. The longer your dental implants last, the less they will cost you in the long run and the better your quality of life will be, and ultimately the more satisfied you will be.
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