When I was a kid, one of the coolest shows on TV was MacGyver. For those not of my generation, “Mac” traveled around the world and helped people in need solve their problems. He was always there for the underdog and his methods were, whenever possible, non-violent and non-lethal. At the end of each episode, he always found himself in a challenging situation and used his brains and whatever he had on hand to get out of the predicament. He was a science nerd who could fix most anything.Thinking back, maybe he was an undercover dentist!
I believe that dental implants are the dental version of MacGyver. They can be used in a variety of creative ways to help people get their teeth and their smiles back. In this post, we will examine three common situations that cause a need for dental implants.
WHY MIGHT I NEED DENTAL IMPLANTS?
In short, you need dental implants to replace missing teeth.
Technically, dental implants are tooth root replacements, most frequently made from titanium, that restore function and appearance when natural teeth have been removed or lost. Dental implants are the most efficient, comfortable, cost effective and functional solution we currently have for replacing lost teeth.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON CAUSES FOR TOOTH LOSS THAT LEAD TO IMPLANTS?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over one quarter (26%) of adults aged 65 or older have 8 or fewer teeth.[i] For some reason, 8 is the number of teeth science has determined that we need to be able to eat a healthy diet. I’d argue that we need more than 8 teeth to properly chew a salad or consume a hard-skinned fruit, like an apple. Quite a few more for a nice, juicy steak!
SO WHAT CAUSES ALL OF THIS ADULT TOOTH LOSS?
Gum Disease (Periodontitis)
Gum disease is the number one reason that people lose teeth.[ii] It is a complicated process where plaque and tarter accumulate on both the top of your teeth and along their roots. This build-up of bacterial debris and waste products leads to inflammation of the gums and, over time, the gum inflammation causes bone to be lost around the tooth roots. If left untreated, the teeth eventually become unstable and must be removed. Periodontitis is a long, slow process that can actually be prevented with good dental habits and early intervention. Unfortunately, periodontitis often goes untreated until it’s too late. Dental implants are often used to replace these lost teeth.
Cavities (Dental Caries)
According to the CDC, 1 in 4 adults aged 20 to 64 currently has at least one cavity.[iii] Cavities are caused when bacteria in our mouths consume carbohydrates and excrete acid onto our teeth. This acid dissolves tooth structure and leads to weakened and sometimes infected teeth. Over time, the decay becomes a cavity, which can cause the tooth to break or the decay infects the nerve and leads to a pocket of pus below the gum line, called a tooth abscess. Either scenario can result in the loss of one or multiple teeth and the need for dental implants.
A third cause of tooth loss is trauma. Car accidents, sports injuries, slips and falls can all lead to lost teeth. I have treated teeth knocked out from baseballs, golf clubs, horse kicks, steering wheels and elbows, to name just a few. In many of these situations, dental implants are the treatment of choice to replace teeth lost to trauma.
PUT THE MACGYVER OF TEETH TO WORK FOR YOU
Whether you have gum disease, cavities, and trauma or some other form of tooth loss, now is the best time to replace your lost teeth with dental implants. Regardless of the cause, dental implants offer the strength, durability and appearance of natural teeth to keep you smiling brightly. Makes me wonder what Mac could do with a dental implant. I bet he could change someone’s life for the better!
The dentist consulted for this article was: Charles William “Chip” Parrish, D.D.S.
Dr. Chip Parrish has over twenty years of clinical dental implant experience and a constant drive to always bring the best dentistry possible to his patients. He co-owns Parrish Dentistry with his wife Jennifer, both of them working together to deliver comprehensive dental solutions to the needs of Llano, Texas and the surrounding Texas hill country towns. Dr. Parrish holds a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Baylor University, a Doctor of Dental Surgery, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, and is a Graduate of the University of Texas Health Science Center Preceptorship on Dental Implantology, a seven-month residency on dental implant surgical and restorative techniques. Dr. Parrish has written hundreds of patient-friendly articles on dentistry and is available for consulting, writing and speaking on a variety of dental subjects. Questions or comments can be emailed to DrChip@ParrishDental.com.