Did you know that an alligator can regrow its teeth up to 50 times in its lifetime? Sharks can shed and replace thousands of teeth.
Humans … aren’t quite there. We lose our primary teeth and get our permanent teeth. When those teeth are gone, they aren’t coming back.
At least, we aren’t going to regrow our lost teeth. Thanks to modern dentistry, we can rebuild a smile and replace missing teeth with a number of services. Whether you need to replace a single tooth, a few teeth, or a complete row of teeth, dental implants can give you back your bite and your smile.
August is Dental Implant Month. To mark this occasion, we want to take some time to discuss how implants could help you at our dental office in Charlotte, NC. We want to give you a little history of how modern implants came to be and how we use them to help patients like you at McNulty and Dancausse General Dentistry.
You can find out whether implants will work for you by calling 704-766-8662 to set up a consultation with one of our doctors.
The Abridged History of Modern Implants
People have understood the importance of replacing lost teeth for thousands of years. Ancient cultures have tried using everything from stones and seashells to animal bones and ivory to replace teeth.
People attempted to make artificial roots from a variety of substances as well — gold, steel, and other metals. People tried different shapes as well, but a breakthrough occurred as a result of what we might call a happy accident.
In the 1950s, Swedish physician Dr. Per-Ingvar Brånemark was preparing to research blood circulation by placing titanium cylinders in the legs of rabbits. His plan was to remove and reuse the cylinders throughout his study.
Instead, the rabbits’ bones bonded directly to the titanium cylinders. This kept the cylinders secure, but it also gave Dr. Brånemark a new focus. He assembled a team of people to work on making an artificial replacement for a tooth root. In 1965, he placed a series of what are considered root-form implants in a human patient who had never had teeth due to a deformity in his jaw. That patient had those implants for the rest of his life (more than 40-plus years).
Since then, more people have built on the work done by Dr. Brånemark and his team, and dental implants have made replacement teeth that are practically as good as the real thing.
In an ideal world, you would keep all of your teeth for life. In reality, more than half of all Americans lose at least one tooth by the time they are 64 years old.
We will do everything we can to help you keep your teeth as long as possible. If you do lose a tooth, however, replacing it is the best thing you can do for your remaining natural teeth. A lost tooth can lead to bone loss and may allow “drifting” to occur, and both of these issues can increase your risk of losing more teeth.
At one time, you would have needed a dental bridge to fill that gap in your smile. To support your bridge, two of your healthy teeth would be ground down into abutments.
By getting an implant, you aren’t just filling the gap in your smile. You also are replacing the root of your lost tooth. Your implant effectively becomes the root, and it supports a dental crown that looks, feels, and functions like a real tooth.
This gives you a natural looking smile and helps prevent bone loss in your jaw. Just as important, it can stop the drifting that occurs when a tooth is not replaced.
As we noted, losing one tooth can lead to more lost teeth. Once you have lost a few teeth, the problems mentioned above will be even worse. You will lose bone in your jaw faster, and your remaining teeth will drift more easily.
In this case, multiple implants are needed to support a dental bridge. Again, the implants function as replacement roots. A bridge is made by fusing multiple crowns together. Again, this gives you a smile that looks natural and the ability to eat the foods that you love.
And much like an implant-supported crown, an implant-supported bridge can help you keep the natural teeth that you still have.
It would be wonderful if no one ever needed dentures, but the reality is that tens of millions of people in the U.S. are missing at least one row of teeth.
Dentures alone might look like teeth, but they don’t function nearly as well. Denture-wearers only have about one-fifth of the biting power of people with a full set of healthy teeth. This is because dentures rest over your gums. As a result, they slip and slide out of place, which makes it difficult to bite and chew effectively.
Implants make denture stable. They also connect your dentures to your jawbone. With this connection, you can put more force behind every bite and chew, so you can eat anything you would like.
And you won’t have any worries about your dentures getting pulled out of your mouth. Instead, you will be able to enjoy your meals and the conversations around them.
Restore Your Smile & Your Bite
Losing teeth can cause a lot of problems. Having an empty space or spaces in your smile can make you self-conscious and can affect your confidence as well.
Missing teeth can affect how you speak and pronounce certain words. And it may go without saying, but they can make it difficult to eat many foods as well.
You should feel good about your smile. You also should be able to eat anything you want. At the same time, you should feel confident that your replacement teeth will stay in your mouth where you want them to be.