As we age, a greater effort is required to maintain our health and our appearance. While we may force ourselves to a strict regimen of diet and exercise, we often neglect our teeth and face dental problems as we grow older. Teeth are prone to deterioration after many years of use. They can get worn down, chipped or cracked, and eventually lost. Tooth loss is sometimes due to physical injury, but is more often due to prolonged periodontal or gum disease.
Even people with good dental hygiene over the years may face dental problems as they grow older. Many of the modern drugs we take as adults lead to dry mouth or other symptoms that impact our ability to fight cavities. Even with good dental care, many older people face the loss of multiple teeth as they age. Having many missing teeth is not only a problem for how you look and feel, but can also be detrimental your health. Replacing these teeth is very important.
Just as with one missing tooth, several missing teeth can be successfully treated with dental implants. Implant supported teeth are permanently fixed in the mouth, unlike removable appliances like dentures. They don’t slip or click, and there is no worry about them moving or falling out when speaking, eating, or participating in activities. And because dental implants are placed directly into the bone, they help preserve the jawbone and prevent bone deterioration. Dental implants look, feel, and function like natural teeth, and can last a lifetime.
In the past, traditional tooth supported bridges have been a primary method for replacing several missing teeth. However, using a bridge has several drawbacks:
The bridge must be supported by adjacent healthy teeth, which must be ground down and capped. These capped teeth then are used to support the bridge across the space where the teeth are missing. The capped teeth are weakened in the process, and often fail over time, creating more dental problems.
The bridge does not address the problem of bone loss. The bone in the area where the teeth are missing will continue to deteriorate, and eventually cause other problems.
Some spans of missing teeth are too large to be treated with a bridge.
Most bridges last from 5-7 years before needing to be replaced.
Dental implants are placed directly into the bone where the teeth are missing, and do not involve the adjacent healthy teeth. Dental implants also prevent or reduce the further loss of bone, and can last a lifetime.
Another traditional approach to treating multiple missing teeth has been to use partial dentures. These are appliances made of plastic and metal that clip to adjacent healthy teeth in order to fill the gaps created by missing teeth.
Partial dentures are much more cosmetic than they are functional, and they still often lead to embarrassment. Many people who wear partial dentures say they are reluctant to smile, laugh or even speak in public because they are afraid their denture may slip, or that the wires may show.
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