Though when we are out and about in public, and with safety in mind are wearing masks, smiles still abound. They show in our eyes, are shared when we are at a safe physical distance, and are seen up close when we are in the confines of our homes with our families or on Zoom and FaceTime. And, hopefully, soon we will be able to return to sharing smiles with all whom we encounter. Smiling shows we care, we are happy or we find humor in what was said. What else does that smile show? It shows our teeth. Do you smile with confidence? Much is said about ‘whiter and brighter’ teeth. And straighter teeth. Both are important to boost our feelings of self-esteem when we share a big smile. But as we look behind the masks and see smiles, we need to go beyond esthetics when discussing the components of a healthy smile, bringing us to a facet of dentistry we highlight in the month of September.
September not only brings cooler weather, changing leaves, and the start of schools, it’s also Dental Implant Awareness Month. Why is this an important topic in today’s world? And why does Colony Square Dental Associates take time to address this issue? Because there is never a holiday from good health. And to achieve a healthy state of being, we need to do all the things that are beneficial to our bodies. We know what they are; we hear it all the time. Exercise. Get a good night’s rest. Decrease stress. And eat a healthy, balanced diet.
This is where our oral health comes in. We enjoy having a beautiful smile, but we have to go beyond. It’s fundamental to our wellbeing to be able to eat nutritious foods in comfort. When one, or more, teeth are missing, this sets off a chain of unwelcome events. Whether the lost tooth is in the back of our mouth, where no one knows it’s missing and it doesn’t impact that dynamic smile, or whether it’s in an upper front tooth, replacement is equally as important. Why?
There are a number of reasons:
- Our upper and lower arches work together as a team. They join together enabling us to bite into and chew our foods. When a tooth on the lower arch is missing, the one above, over time, has nothing pressuring it to remain in place. The root of the remaining tooth can loosen from its purchase in the bone and begin to drift downwards. Now, we not only have a missing tooth, we also have a tooth, which otherwise could have been in good health, loosening its firm hold within the upper arch. As the tooth drops down, there is also the potential that the sinus cavity, resting above the roots of the teeth, can begin to descend and enlarge.
- Our teeth are somewhat like dominos; when one starts to teeter and fall, it impacts the dominos next to it. When there is a void where a tooth has been, though not occurring as fast as the toppling dominos, the teeth adjacent to the void have nothing keeping them from moving into the space, and drifting can occur over time. This can cause loosening of the adjacent teeth as well as crookedness.
- And, above all, the understanding of how our teeth, gums, and supporting bone work together comes into play … our bodies know when there is disuse of an area. Just like muscles that atrophy when we don’t use them, the same is true of the bone that supports the roots of our teeth. Blood flow goes to the bone tissue, keeping it healthy as is does its work to keep the tooth’s root firmly in place. But when a tooth is lost, the forces of chewing that were transferred to the bone, keeping it stimulated and healthy, are lost. Without the force, the bone volume cannot be maintained. Over time, atrophic changes can cause periodontal disease, the loss of additional teeth, and a change in your appearance. And, especially when there are many teeth that are missing, as bone volumes decrease the jaw can appear as though it has collapsed with lips looking thinner and cheeks sunken.
As we can see – it takes teamwork. As Dr. David G. Hochberg and Dr. Mira Diora say, each member is essential. After all, it’s you, and your health, that will be the winner or the looser. Replacing a critical member of the team keeps the entire team in good working order. And that’s where a dental implant comes into play. The dental implant itself acts to replace the natural root of a tooth. It is implanted into the site where the root of the natural tooth has been lost and then it is restored with a dental implant crown. The forces of chewing, once again transferred to the bone tissue, helps to maintain the bone tissue in the jaw, avoid, a sagging jaw, drifting of teeth, and the potential for periodontal disease and further tooth loss.
Whether you have lost a tooth due to accidental injury or disease – communication is the first step. Ask Drs. Hochberg & Dr. Diora if you are a candidate for dental implants. Team up with our dentists. Review your options. Learn how dental implants work and the sequence of care so that you can smile with confidence, chew in comfort, and optimize your oral health.