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It is estimated that approximately 70% of the population in the United States has lost a tooth and that most people over the age of 60 have lost several teeth. There are many reasons that people lose teeth including injury, decay, and periodontal (gum) disease. As the number of missing teeth increases, the more difficult it becomes to replace them, and the pace of bone resorption and gum tissue recession increases.
Having multiple missing teeth can lead to some significant problems, including deterioration of the bone and teeth drifting into the empty spaces created by tooth loss. Excessive wear on the remaining teeth and dysfunction of the jaw joints, as a result of bite problems, are additional problems that are created by having missing teeth.
In addition to the functional problems that are created by having missing teeth, patients can experience a drop in quality of speech and self-confidence. The face may also undergo some significant changes as the result of bone loss, causing the patient to have a face that sags or cheeks that are sunken in.
All treatment options for multiple missing teeth are designed to improve your smile so that you get back the look, feel, and function of having teeth. Dental implants are generally considered as the best option for replacing multiple lost teeth because they can also stop the bone loss and tooth shifting that can occur.
There are several treatment options for repairing multiple missing teeth with dental implants. Dental implant procedures generally involve the placement of a dental implant in the patient’s jawbone followed by a healing period that enables the dental implant to fuse with the patient’s living bone.
A second procedure will involve the placement of attachments called abutments, followed by the placement of permanent crowns, a bridge, or an overdentures.
A single implant is a dental implant that is used to serve as a replacement for a single missing tooth. As a treatment for multiple missing teeth, single implants may be used in multiple locations in the patient’s mouth to restore teeth that were individually lost.
An implant bridge is similar to a traditional dental bridge. The difference between a traditional dental bridge and an implant bridge is that this type of bridge is supported by dental implants instead of teeth. An implant bridge contains crowns that are attached to each other with the crowns on either end of the bridge being supported by dental implants.
An implant overdentures is similar to regular dentures because it contains both artificial teeth and gums and is removable. The difference is that an implant overdentures is attached to dental implants, unlike regular dentures that simply sits on the gums. The implants improve stability of the dentures.
In order for dental implant procedure to be successful, a patient may also require a bone graft procedure to be performed. In patients with significant bone loss, the bone graft procedure will be performed prior to the dental implant procedure.