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Dec 27, 2016

Replacing missing teeth

 As we go through life, we risk losing teeth to caries, fractures or gum disease.

Tooth decay is treated with traditional fillings or crowns. However, if a patient has waited too long before visiting a dentist, the decay could be severe resulting in the need to extract the tooth.

Accidents could lead to loss of teeth. While healthy teeth may be affected, teeth that are already filled or treated are most likely to be knocked out.

Gum disease (periodontitis)
Periodontitis is a slow progressing condition that can go undetected for a long time by the patient. Today, dentists are very skilled at diagnosing periodontitis in time. As it affects a great part of the population, there are many patients with untreated gum disease that will eventually lead to loss of teeth.

Several alternatives
Dentists today have many options and a lot of experience choosing the appropriate treatment to replace lost teeth. The most common treatments are implants or a bridge. In some cases a removable appliance is chosen, like a denture.

The bridge treatment requires the neighbouring teeth to be filed down. This is to allow the bridge to fit correctly. In order for the bridge to be a success, the neighbouring teeth must be solid. If they are loose or filled/repaired, the long term prognosis is not optimal. At the same time, if the neighbouring teeth are perfect, it would be a shame to file them down. If a patient is missing more teeth in a row, it can also be difficult to make an adequate bridge as the span is simply too long. Before implants were available, the only alternative was to have a partial denture made. Dentures take some getting used to as many complain it is loose in the mouth, covers the taste buds, makes chewing difficult, doesn’t look good, etc.

It is not often we do these kind of removable dentures any longer thanks to implants.

Today we can offer dental implants
In the 80s, a Swedish dentist from Gothenburg, Per Ingvar Brånemark (Nobel Biocare is still the world’s leading brand, and used by Snö) pioneered the idea of dental implants. He realised that the metal titanium is not rejected by the body, but is easily accepted as a natural part of the body. This means the titanium implant will integrate with the bone it is put in. This is called osseointegration. There are numerous people around the world with ‘new’ teeth using this method.

The bone quality is paramount
The number of implants the dentist will fit depends on the bone quality and the available bone. In a completely edentulous (lacking teeth) jaw, six implants are sufficient. On these six implants it is possible to place 12 new porcelain teeth. One implant can also used to replace one tooth. The possibilities are many.

When you lose a tooth, the bone in that cavity usually resorbs. This is because without teeth there is nothing to stimulate the bone. When you chew, the pressure stimulates the tooth and subsequently the bone. When an implant is placed we can avoid the resorption of bone. But if one waits too long before inserting an implant, there might not be enough bone left.

In cases where a lot of bone has been lost it is possible to transplant bone from another part of the body. This may seem like a lot to overcome, but when the alternative is a denture, it is worth it.

What is the prognosis?
The success rate for implants is very good. A long term study shows that more than 90 per cent of implants placed work very well. Regular visits to your dentist and hygienist will help ensure that your implants continue to work well. With time, the teeth on the implants will wear just like normal teeth and may require replacing. But in most cases, the implant will not need to be changed. If you lose an implant, it is possible to have a new one put in after a healing period.

At Snö we have a long quarantee on implant treatments, no matter what happens. Read more about implant treatments here.