Dr. Waters and his team at Waters Family Dentistry know the value of a healthy smile. It is our mission to provide a lifetime of optimal oral health to our patients. Unfortunately, tooth loss is a common condition for American adults; in fact, over 50 percent of adults (age 20 to 64) have lost at least one permanent tooth.
Common Causes of Tooth Loss
Tooth loss can occur due to many different reasons.
- Periodontal disease
- Untreated tooth decay
- Tooth infection
- Dental trauma
- Recurrent tooth decay (around an existing restoration or crown)
Why Tooth Replacement is Important
When a missing tooth is not replaced, the open space and surrounding teeth will experience adverse effects. First, tissue and bone loss will occur at the site of the lost tooth. Over time, the teeth on either side of the space will drift into the open area. The teeth above or below the open space will "over-erupt" or grow into the space because there is no longer an opposing tooth.
The good news is that if you have experienced tooth loss, you have several options to replace the form and function of your natural tooth.
In many cases, the best option to replace a tooth is a dental implant. A dental implant is titanium cylinder that replaces the root structure of the missing tooth. The process to receive an implant takes multiple appointments.
After you and the dentist determine an implant is your best option, he will refer you to a dental specialist to surgically place the implant rod. Once placed, the implant is allowed to integrate into the jawbone. This usually takes three to four months. During that time, a healing cap is present. If the open space is in the front of your mouth, a temporary crown can be made.
Next, you will see Dr. Waters or Dr. Crouch to complete the process of fabricating the implant crown. The healing cap is replaced by a connecting piece called an abutment. An impression is made of the abutment and a permanent crown is constructed by a dental laboratory. The final implant crown can be seated two weeks later and will stabilize and preserve the surrounding teeth and tissue.
Removable Partial Dentures
In some cases, a removable partial denture is a good alternative to dental implants for the replacement of missing teeth. A partial denture is a removable appliance that is designed to improve the appearance of your smile and the function of your teeth. Dr. Waters and Dr. Crouch work with a dental laboratory during several appointments to design, fit, and fabricate your appliance. Once the final appliance is complete, Dr. Waters or Dr. Crouch will make any needed follow-up adjustments.
For patients who need replacement of all of the upper and/or lower teeth, a removable denture is available.
This prosthetic device is made from a gum-colored, resin material and natural-looking replacement teeth. Dr. Waters and Dr. Crouch will work closely with a dental laboratory technician to choose the best shade and shape of teeth for your denture. During several appointments, multiple impressions are taken to determine the proper fit over your gums.
You may experience a period of adjustment with chewing and speaking, but in time it will feel more natural. Dentures will improve your ability for eating and speaking and also restore the appearance of your smile.
Implant Retained Dentures
To increase long-term retention, the dentist may recommend placing a bar retained overdenture with dental implants. Placing dental implants adds support, improves eating and speaking, and prevents the loss of bone and supporting structure under the denture.
An immediate denture is a prosthesis that is placed the same day that any remaining teeth are removed. This will ensure that the patient does not have to be toothless at any point in the process. However, when an immediate denture is placed, a reline of the denture is necessary due to the healing and shrinkage of the tissue and bone after the teeth are removed. This typically takes place about six to nine months following the initial placement and will restore the fit of the denture.
Which Option is Best for My Mouth?
To determine which of these options is the best for your unique situation, schedule an appointment with Dr. Waters or Dr. Crouch. He will evaluate your current condition, answer any questions you may have, and formulate the best treatment plan. Our Grand Island dental office can be reached by calling (308) 382-1734. We look forward to hearing from you!