By Debbie Fletcher
Tooth implants are treated as luxury items because of their price but, as more and more people from all classes choose to apply only the best spare parts to their body, it becomes clear that they are a luxurious solution for their unrivalled performance in all roles that teeth fulfil.
Tooth decay, gum disease and trauma are the three leading causes of tooth loss in healthy Americans, leaving about 70 per cent of people between the ages 35 and 44 with one or more missing teeth (according to NCHS Data Brief: “Selected Oral Health Indicators in the United States, 2005-2008” May 2012.)
We like to think of people in that age group as the current powerhouses of our community. They are at their top earning potential. They have established families. They have been around the world and have vital life experience while being close enough to the younger generation.
However, missing teeth can disrupt the enjoyment of living in the prime of your life. An incomplete set of teeth projects an image of roughness and lack of finesse, with hints of bad hygiene (which is not necessarily the case!).
Limitations on the food one can eat denies the simple pleasures of life, such as gorging on a juicy steak or a crisp apple.
Tooth implants have made significant technological progress, with 3D modelling and printing leading the way to more anatomically-personalised surgeries, yielding much better results at a reduced recovery time and risk.
3D CT modelling in dentist’s Palm (source: AB Dental)
Dentures are being pushed aside. With their similar costs to implants but severe drawbacks, they are only applicable in complex cases, where the jaw bone will not support an implant. It is important to note right now, that bone thinning at the jaw in a healthy individual is most likely a result of living with a missing tooth for too long. Dentures do not halt this destructive process.
The first and most obvious benefit of implants is their rigid connection with the jaw. In many ways, it is stronger than the connection a natural tooth makes.
Patients with implants can feel food just like they did when they had the pearlies their mother gave them.
Crunching down a crisp or a fresh carrot will send the vibrations straight to the jaw bone for that satisfying snap we crave, which makes us feel as powerful masters of our food. Dentures not only numb the sensation but entirely prohibit it, unless you want to gulp down a prosthetic tooth with your food and play “forensic scientist” in the loo afterwards.
Implants offer an opportunity to stop the downward spiral that starts with a missing tooth. The titanium screws bind with the bone like a healed fracture. Gums will grow around them and seal the implant from bacteria getting in and destroying the jaw. The prosthetic tooth attached to the implant will provide pressure against the adjacent teeth, which helps to keep the bite tight. Once some leeway is introduced to a row of teeth, all teeth become more loose and prone to falling.
Hence, implants are not only better looking and better ‘tasting,’ they are more sustainable and healthy.
Teeth are the foundations for some very important expressions. It is amazing that we still have some primitive instincts and those surrounding our smile (or angry-face) cannot be ignored. Dentists are relatively a modern invention. Back in the day, if someone had bad teeth, they were bound to die in suffering. This is why we are naturally inclined to like big shiny smiles – our body tells us this is a healthy person that is worth committing to.
Whether you are trying to impress a date or a future employer – it’s not just what you say, it’s the mouth you use to say it.
The confidence of knowing your smile is perfect and nothing is going to jump out when you talk is often the difference between making an impact and getting immediately forgotten.
For health, aesthetic and social reasons, dental well-being is as important as any branch of medicine.
Remember: Missing teeth are no laughing matter!
(How would you be laughing with your mouth closed, anyway?)