Did you know that over the last year, about 6 million adults in the UK have experienced long-lasting tooth pain? How can we explain this given the medical advancements in dentistry over the past few decades?
Or perhaps is it the lack of NHS available dentists? 33% of UK adults have never flossed, meaning that most tooth problems can be traced back to failing to maintain proper oral care.
- 1 What happens when you have missing teeth?
- 2 What is gum disease?
- 3 3 things that you probably didn’t know about gum disease
- 4 Tooth loss and dental implants
- 5 The dental implant treatment
- 6 How to choose the dental bridge over the implants?
- 7 Peri-implantitis and dental implants
- 8 Bringing it all together
What happens when you have missing teeth?
If you experience some tooth loss to some extent, inevitably you start losing more with time as this causes a domino effect. Why does this happen? When one or more teeth are missing, the body sees no purpose for the jawbone underneath and resorbs it. Since it doesn’t get any stimulus to grow further, it starts melting. This results in losing more teeth, as there is no longer any balance in the bone structure and it can’t support the other teeth. In time, your jaw bone with change, resulting in drastic changes in the way your face and smile look.
What is gum disease?
According to recent research, the top 3 reasons for tooth loss in the UK are:
- Trauma or accidents – having a tooth knocked out after an injury
- Poor diet and nutrition – consuming highly acidic or sugary food and drinks
- Smoking and poor oral hygiene.
The combination of poor habits that lead to oral disease is possibly the worst because it is a direct consequence of choices that are well within your control. Sugary drinks and foods, for example, are not only bad for your gut and cardiac health, but also destroy your teeth.
Harmful bacteria feed on food remnants in the oral cavity and attack your tooth enamel leading to cavities and decay. If not treated on time, you are bound to suffer from gum inflammation and disease. What is worse, you could easily mistake the symptoms for the ones of a common cold – runny nose, fever and chills.
Still, if you have bleeding or sensitive gums and wobbly teeth, you may already be experiencing serious gum disease. If you think that gum disease is confined to destroying your teeth, only you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
3 things that you probably didn’t know about gum disease
- Can cause serious health conditions in other parts of your body – numerous studies have linked gum disease to chronic heart conditions and cognitive decline among others. Did you know that 60-75% of pregnant women and the early stage of gum disease (gingivitis)?
- Gum disease is contagious – the good news is that it’s not airborne and you can’t catch it while walking past someone. However, it is transmitted over saliva, so if you share utensils, share snacks or a kiss, you could be exposed to the harmful bacteria that cause gum disease. If a member of your household is showing signs of periodontitis like bleeding and swollen gums, kindly suggest they attend a routine checkup with their dentist.
- It is extremely common. Did you know that in the UK, there are 6.9 million people who smoke cigarettes? Smoking promotes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream so the affected gums don’t heal. Still, even if we leave smokers alone, a good number of over 80% of adults over the age of 35 are affected by this condition.
Tooth loss and dental implants
If left untreated gum disease can lead to severe tooth loss. Losing your teeth can massively impair your overall quality of life, your diet and the way you look. It shatters your confidence and destroys your smile.
Fortunately, dental implant treatments can resolve tooth loss issues for good. All-on-4/ All-on-6 implant treatments offer a substitute for your natural teeth. With their durability and long-term stability, they can help you regain your confidence and eat without pain and discomfort again.
The dental implant treatment
When you decide you want to make this change for the better, it all simply starts with a dental implant consultation with a local specialist. For especially nervous patients, it is a good idea to go down to the clinic and meet the dentist first to make sure you first get acquainted both with the staff and the environment. This is bound to have a positive impact on your dental anxiety and help you deal with it if you have dental phobia.
After you have your dental implant consultation, you’d get a full examination, CT scan and medical history revision to make sure everything is in order before you start the process.
Then a couple of hours after your thorough examination, you’d presented with your treatment plan with details about the stages of your dental implant treatment, which includes the following components:
- Tooth extractions (if needed and medically recommended)
- Bone grafting/ sinus lift (in case of severe bone loss bone augmentation may be needed to provide a solid foundation for the dental implants)
- Implantation of 6 implants in the upper and 4 implants in the lower jaw (all-on-4/ all-on-6 technique)
- Placing of the temporary restoration
How to choose the dental bridge over the implants?
Apart from the budget and colour options that you have in mind, choosing a suitable dental bridge for your implants largely depends on whether you want them sorted for life or whether you’d be willing to compromise and have them tended to now and then.
PMMA teeth bridges, for example, and a great budget-friendly option, but are subject to wear and tear. They are quite durable, but essentially are a type of plastic, so even with the best care, you’d still need to replace them every 3-5 years.
Zirconia teeth, on the other hand, are a solution for life. There are over 20 shades among which you’re bound to choose the perfect teeth for your smile. They are 10 times stronger than natural teeth enamel and with proper care, they can last a lifetime.
Peri-implantitis and dental implants
According to several studies, peri-implantitis affects 1 in every 10 dental implant patients. Early symptoms may involve irritated gums and inflamed tissues, just like regular gum disease. This bacteria-borne disease affects the soft tissue and gum area that surround the dental implant. In time, if not treated and eliminated it can cause your implant to fail. It slowly reverses the osseointegration of the implant causing the bone that surrounds it to fracture and soften. Ultimately, to prevent further damage the implant will have to be taken out.
It is divided into two categories:
- Peri-implant mucositis – at this stage, only the soft tissue around the implant is affected. This means there are no signs of bone deterioration, so it is not likely that your implant would fail. If caught and treated early, it is considered reversible and it may not lead to implant removal.
- Peri-implantitis – if you have failed to attend your routine dental appointments and have not treated the first stage of the disease there are most probably already signs of peri-implantitis. Not only the gum is affected but also the jawbone underneath shows signs of decline and no longer offers firm support for the implant. At this stage, the only solution is the surgical removal of the implant.
Bringing it all together
Dental implants look and feel like your natural teeth. And just like with natural teeth, you need to take good care of your teeth bridges and dental implants. You need to brush and floss twice a day and visit your dentist every 6 months to make sure that your oral care is spick and span if you want to ensure the lifelong endurance of your dental implants. Previous gum disease, poor oral hygiene and plaque control, smoking, and diabetes are also factors for developing a peri-implant disease. So if you want to make sure you will have your restored smile for life – take excellent care of it.