We live longer now than we ever could as cavemen and for the most part our bodies have coped well with the change to a softer, more protected life. However, our teeth are not designed for longevity and can show the effects of long usage, and can begin to discolour, crumble and loosen as we head into late middle age – or even earlier if we have made poor lifestyle choices.
Fortunately medical science and developments have kept up with our need for good teeth for longer and dentistry has become something of an art, with fillings, a bridge or two, crowns and dental implants providing an excellent substitute when necessary – our third set of teeth, you could say.
Reasons for dental implants
Implants can be necessitated through injury, illness or even severe neglect. Car accidents where airbags do not deploy can sometimes result in the driver's face and mouth being smashed into the steering wheel, people fainting and falling straight down without instinctively protecting their faces, violent crime and degenerative conditions can all result in damage to the teeth and jaw.
Some illicit drugs such as meth can dry out the mouth, causing severe tooth decay. Also, people who are taking drugs or drinking very heavily tend not to practice good oral hygiene, which can lead to problems for them in later life. Once teeth begin to fall out the shape and structure of the face begins to change which can look very aging. Damaged teeth can be very painful and interfere with speaking, eating and even breathing.
Patients can opt for dentures or false teeth, which are removable, or dental implants which are permanent replacements. The surgeon places a screw or peg into the jawbone to form the support for a porcelain replacement tooth, similar to a crown. Once complete the patient has a permanent strong tooth that will always remain fixed in place. The implant fills out the shape of the face, keeping it youthful, and, of course, the patient can go back to eating all their favourite foods without worrying about pain or embarrassment. The patient will have to follow a soft diet for anywhere from two weeks to several months after the surgery to allow the implant time to settle and for the bone to grow around it.
So, to summarize:
- Tooth loss can occur due to poor hygiene, illness or injury
- New methods of replacing teeth look very natural and are permanent
- Replacement teeth can improve the shape and structure of a face