Missing teeth do much more than simply leave you with a gap in your smile. They can also lead to a variety of oral health problems. Your remaining teeth may shift to fill in the space, causing alignment issues with your bite. Missing teeth also lead to jawbone deterioration, which can result in the loss of additional teeth. For these reasons, it is very important that you replace a missing tooth as soon as possible.
Dental implants are the most effective solution to replace missing teeth. However, not everyone is a suitable candidate for dental implants.
The best way to find out if dental implants are the right option for you is to speak with Dr. Heather Fleschler in person. Please call 713-660-6500 today to schedule a consultation. We provide quality dental services to those who live in and near Houston, Sugar Land, and Pasadena, Texas.
- Benefits of Dental Implants
- Oral Health Risks and Missing Teeth
- Candidates for Dental Implants
- The Dental Implant Process
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dr. Fleschler recommends dental implants for all patients who are suitable candidates for the procedure. They are the only tooth replacement option that replaces both your missing tooth and root. This eliminates many of the hassles associated with dentures and bridges, and it allows you to have a replacement that functions just like your natural teeth.
By replacing your missing root, dental implants eliminate the risk of jawbone deterioration associated with tooth loss. It is the only option that performs this important function. This prevents additional bone and tooth loss while preserving the shape of your face.
Dental implants offer a variety of benefits compared with alternatives such as dentures or dental bridges, including:
- Permanent: The dental implant fuses with your jawbone, allowing it to function just like your natural tooth root. As a result, it is the only permanent solution to replace your missing teeth.
- Improved aesthetics: Dental implants look and feel just like your natural teeth.
- Improved oral health: Adjacent teeth do not need to be altered to support a dental implant the way they do with a dental bridge. This preserves the long-term health of your remaining teeth. Dental implants also eliminate the bone loss associated with alternative replacement options, reducing your risk of additional tooth loss in the future.
- Improved speech: Poorly fitting dentures have a tendency to slip, causing you to mumble or slur your words when you speak. Since dental implants are permanently fused with your jaw, they eliminate the speech issues associated with dentures.
- Improved eating ability: Because dentures have a tendency to slide in your mouth, They can make chewing and eating more difficult. Dental implants function just like your natural teeth and can withstand the heavy forces exerted while chewing, enabling you to eat all of your favorite foods without concern.
- Durability: When properly cared for, your dental implants can last a lifetime.
- Convenience: Dental implants eliminate the hassles associated with removing your dentures every night, and you will never have to deal with the messy adhesives necessary to keep dentures in place.
Oral Health Risks and Missing Teeth
As mentioned above, there are many reasons why it’s important to replace any missing teeth you may have. Failure to replace missing teeth can result in one or more of the following serious oral health conditions:
- Tooth shifting: Your neighboring teeth may shift to fill the space left by your missing tooth. Over time, this can lead to crooked teeth and bite alignment issues.
- TMJ: The bite alignment issues associated with failing to replace your missing teeth can prevent your upper and lower jaw from meeting properly. This can damage your jaw joint, leading to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a painful and debilitating condition that can impact your daily life.
- Gum disease: It is common for missing teeth to increase your risk of gum disease, a condition that often leads to additional tooth loss as well as other serious systemic health issues.
- Bone deterioration: Your tooth’s root performs many important functions, including stimulating the jawbone. When you are missing your tooth (and consequently the root as well), this lack of stimulation leads to jawbone deterioration. Ultimately, this can result in additional tooth loss.
- Sunken facial appearance: Jawbone deterioration can also result in alterations to the shape of your face. It is common to develop a sunken facial appearance which makes you look older than you are.
Candidates for Dental Implants
Dental implants are the most effective solution to replace a missing tooth. It is the only option that replaces both your missing tooth and root. This improves the function of your bite and prevents future bone deterioration which may lead to additional tooth loss.
While most people can benefit from implant dentistry, it is not the ideal solution for everyone. It is important to make sure you are a good candidate for dental implants before moving forward with the procedure. The best way to determine whether you are an ideal candidate for implant dentistry is to speak with Dr. Heather Fleschler in person.
Ideal candidates for dental implants should meet the following criteria:
- Be in good overall health
- Have healthy gums
- Have sufficient jawbone density to accommodate the dental implant
- Are not taking medications which may negatively impact bone healing
- Do not smoke or are willing to quit smoking during the procedure and throughout the entire recovery process
- Are willing to commit to the extensive time necessary to complete the procedure and recovery
If you do not meet all of these criteria right now, it does not necessarily rule you out as a dental implant candidate. For example, if you do not have sufficient bone structure to accommodate the implant, Dr. Fleschler may be able to perform a bone graft which will allow you to move forward with the procedure. Also, any gum disease will need to be treated prior to undergoing the dental implant procedure.
Smoking can negatively impact the healing process. Therefore, it is crucial that you are willing to quit smoking before getting dental implants.
The Dental Implant Process
Dr. Fleschler works with a local periodontist who will perform any necessary extractions as well as the implant placement phase of your dental implant procedure. Working with a specialist for implant placement ensures you will receive the most precise results possible. However, Dr. Fleschler will always serve as leader of your implant dentistry team, instructing the periodontist regarding exact implant placement location.
The following is a general timeline of the dental implant process:
- During the implant placement phase, a 3D image is taken of your mouth and jaw to provide a detailed image which will guide the placement of your dental implant. If you do not have sufficient jawbone density, Dr. Fleschler may recommend that you undergo a bone graft before the implant is placed.
- The periodontist will insert a titanium dental implant into your jawbone. There will be a healing process, which takes approximately 3-6 months to complete, following implant placement. During this time, the dental implant will fuse with your jawbone, allowing it to function as a permanent replacement root. This process is called osseointegration.
- Once osseointegration is complete, you will return to our West University office and Dr. Fleschler will place a small titanium rod, called an abutment, on the dental implant. The abutment will eventually connect with your new prosthetic tooth.
- Dr. Fleschler will take an impression of your teeth which will be sent to the dental lab for use in creating your new prosthetic tooth. The lab will use the highest quality dental porcelain to construct a dental crown that will look just like your neighboring natural teeth.
- When your crown is ready, Dr. Fleschler will attach it to the abutment. At this point, you will have a fully functional replacement tooth that blends in seamlessly with your smile.
Contact Our Houston Cosmetic Dentist Today
Dr. Heather F. Fleschler was Houston's first female fellow of the Las Vegas Institute, the prestigious school of advanced dental studies. Through her commitment to continuing education, she aims to provide all of her patients with quality dental care to address their oral health needs. Dr. Fleschler strives to pair artistry with functionality so that your dental work with not only function properly, but look wonderful as well.
By combining state-of-the-art cosmetic dentistry treatments with a patient-centered philosophy, Dr. Fleschler will educate you and work with you every step of the way to make sure that you're getting the highest-quality dental care for your specific needs.
If you have a missing tooth and want to learn more about dental implants and how they can help you, please contact our office by filling out the form on this page or by calling us at 713-660-6500 to schedule your consultation. We are a Houston-based dental office that provides services to those in and around the Houston and Sugar Land areas of Texas.