Ignoring oral health issues or tooth loss considering them as petty health problems could be a grave mistake as teeth connect with other organs in the body through nerves which help in sensory reception and proprioception (sense of position and movement).
Generally, tooth loss is known to cause difficulty in speaking and mastication. However, it is lesser known to cause sensory complications like difficulty in stereognosis and proprioception. Studies show long-term changes in brain structure caused by tooth loss and anxiety and depression can be attributed to tooth loss and also cause other sensory, motor cognitive and emotional problems.
It is therefore, advised to never ignore tooth loss as the jawbone needs teeth for regeneration and to remain healthy. As per the scientific literature, after tooth loss, the bone beneath starts degenerating making the entire jawbone weak, prone to infections and even fracture. Besides, it also gives the face a more aged look.
All these problems can be easily prevented just by opting for dental implants which stabilizes the jawbone, retains the natural feature of jaws and even prevent the sensory problems.
Dental implants are the modern tooth-replacement method using titanium implant which act like the root attached with natural resembling dental crown. The only visible part of the implant is the natural-looking crown while the implant rests down in jawbone beneath the gum line to give a firm hold to the implant. Titanium, the biocompatible metal, completely fuses with the jawbone with time giving the feel of natural tooth by a process called osseointegration.
Implants have many advantages over the old methods of tooth replacement as it offer a permanent solution, gives a natural look and require no further maintenance as other methods like dentures or bridgeworks require. Further, the implants belong to various categories based on their surface. Certain Implants surfaces are coated with hydroxylapatite and other having plasma coating. The design coupled with surface treatment differentiates one type from another.
Mainly there are two kinds of dental implants- Endosteal and subperiosteal. Endosteal rests in the bone while subperiosteal implants rest on jawbone under the gum tissue. However, based on their success, now endosteal implants are in use.
Apart from tooth replacement, implants also help in other dental treatments. They are used to secure removable dentures functioning as anchorage devices. Further, Mini implants are used for Orthodontic treatments and for moving teeth. These are extremely thin implants which help in moving teeth to the desired position. They are temporarily fixed to the bone for the purpose and removed after the purpose is served.
The use of software coupled with intraoral screening makes it easier to select the size of the implant, its location and the angle at which it should be placed for best success.
In many cases, where there is very small jawbone left or no bone at all for anchoring, grafting of bone is required. Another way to go for implantation in such a case is to derive support from the basal bone. In Basal implantology, cortical portion of jawbones is used for placing implants specifically designed for implantation in basal bone. The basal bone has different characteristics and is dense, less prone to infections and provides a strong base to support implants.
For those who have lost all their teeth due to decay or gum disease, a stable and comfortable denture can be provided using four implants known as All-on-4 Implant.
For implantation of a complete denture; 14 teeth can be built on 6 implants, called as ‘All on 6’ in dental terminology.
With advancements made in implants and treatment procedures, the success rate of dental implant today is close to 98% and above based on quality and quantity of bone and the clinical skills of the Implantologist.
As per current trends, the global dental implants market is expanding at a fast rate and is expected to reach $ 8.06 billion by 2026. The market trends indicate rising awareness about oral healthcare and its importance among people.
(Disclaimer: The writer Lt. Gen. Dr. Vimal Arora is Chief Clinical Officer of Clove Dental. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)