Any dentist will agree that preventing tooth loss is one of the fundamental goals — if not the primary goal — of routine dental care and oral hygiene practices. That is why attending routine appointments at a professional dental clinic minimizes patients’ risk of developing cavities, gum disease, and other oral health conditions that result in tooth loss and require non-preventive dental care.
Nevertheless — and even though oral health practices in Canada have improved dramatically over the past 40-50 years — the average Canadian adult ends up losing six to seven teeth.
What You Need To Know About Tooth Loss & Dental Implants
Generally speaking, people prefer their natural teeth, even when they replace missing teeth with dental implants. Nevertheless, when tooth loss is inevitable or tooth extraction is the only viable treatment option, opting to replace missing teeth with high-quality dental implants is the ideal next step.
Research suggests that there are numerous oral health and psychosocial consequences of choosing not to replace a missing tooth. The most significant of which is jawbone absorption.
What Is Jawbone Absorption?
The bone tissue in a person’s jaw requires continuous stimulation (from chewing and biting) to continue growing at a sufficient rate to replace itself as it naturally breaks down and is reabsorbed by the body. As a result, tooth loss often causes the jawbone at the site of the missing tooth to shrink as it degrades faster than it regenerates.
This process, called jawbone absorption, can cause people to lose as much as 25% of the jawbone tissue near the missing tooth within the first year of losing it. This leads to additional oral health (and overall health) consequences, including tooth migration, poor denture fit, oral discomfort, food avoidance, and poor nutrition.
The Simple Secret To Preventing Jawbone Loss
Recent research shows that even the most basic dental implant can slow the process of jawbone absorption, and the best dental implants can significantly reduce jawbone loss over time due to missing teeth. This is especially true when dental implants are placed by a professional dentist immediately following tooth extraction or shortly after tooth loss.
It is no surprise, then, that many people — including at least 200,000 Canadians per year — ultimately undergo some type of dental implant procedure.
How Exactly Do Dental Implants Preserve Jawbone Structure?
Regardless of the type of implant used, any dental implant procedure performed by any dentist fulfills the same purpose. Specifically, it involves placing the implant itself — which does not include the crown of the tooth — to replace the roots of the missing tooth with a metal screw-like post. After the implant has healed, the dentist can then perform further restorative procedures, like fitting and placing the crown.
Most patients are drawn to dental implants by the cosmetic result of the crown and the expected increase in oral comfort (especially while chewing) that accompanies a well-placed and well-designed implant. Yet, almost more importantly, this process replicates the pressure applied by the tooth to the bone. This, in turn, stimulates the bone to regenerate in much the same way that the natural tooth would, thereby preventing the process of jawbone resorption.
The Safest Way To Get Dental Implants (Is To Search For A Dentist “Near Me”)
Dental implants can be costly in Canada. This makes “dental tourism” an attractive prospect for many Canadians. That is, they opt to travel abroad for their dental implant procedure because prices are lower (especially in Central and South America). Yet it is important to realize that the procedural standards and standard of care tend to be lower abroad than they are in Canada. This elevates the risk level for the procedure and makes it less likely to be effective than the same procedure performed at a dental clinic.
That is because, although dental implant procedures have a 99% success rate, there is some significant risk of complications during and after the process. These risks range based on the dentist’s skill-level, local standards for education and care, and the easy accessibility of follow-up visits. The complexity and delicacy of the procedure make it essential to only search for a highly-skilled, qualified dentist for any dental implant procedures.