Dental implants restore a lost tooth and function just like a natural tooth. I have talked before about dental implants as far as the safety, the benefits and whether they are right for you and you can find more of that information on our website. I want to specifically address how you can ensure the longevity of dental implants. They are strong and stable and, in fact, the next best thing to natural teeth. Dental implants are designed to last and can last a lifetime if they are properly placed and cared for. There aren’t any uncomfortable or embarrassing moments of them loosening or falling out while talking, eating or laughing like with removable dentures.Dental implants allow ease and confidence in any situation. Dental implants go into the jawbone where the missing tooth was, alongside healthy adjacent teeth. The jawbone then supports the implant just like with the natural teeth, thereby strengthening and stimulating bone growth.
Let me be clear. Like any medical device, there is no 100% guarantee on how long they will last or whether adjustments will need to be made. There are many risk factors that impact the survival of dental implants such as patient’s medical history, smoking, periodontal disease, oral hygiene. Basically, it will depend on how well you care for them and your periodontal health. If you follow the care protocol and come in for maintenance there is a much better chance the implants will last. Statistically speaking, more than 90% of implants will still be functional at ten years and I tell patients that the majority can expect the implants to function at a high degree of success for a minimum of five years, but I have seen ten years and longer. While we do not implement a general warranty for dental implants, I address this topic on a case-by-case basis after careful consideration of the patient and circumstances.
I can recall as a kid, on several occasions, being less than thrilled to visit the dentist. When my mother told me we were going to get my teeth checked it was all she could do to keep me from running to hide. But, I also recall that every time I was apprehensive my fears would quickly disappear when the dentist came into the room. He was gentle and patient and had an amusing sense of humor. I can’t say for sure that my exposure to the dental chair at a young age wasn’t at least a tiny bit of inspiration for my career choice years later.
But, dental fear and anxiety are pretty common actually. For some it is a mild feeling of anxiousness yet for others it can be an intense fear or dread, referred to as a phobia (odontophobia).Their reluctance to visit the dentist is often a source of pain and swelling, lack of nutrition, missed work, medical complications. When those people do eventually seek dental care, their teeth are often in such bad shape that they require more extensive dental work which reinforces their fear. Unfortunately, the fact that seeing the dentist for regular care and maintaining good oral health can be helpful is not enough of a motivation for many people to overcome their fears and see one. While some may have had a traumatic dental experience at some point, for others it may be due to other existing anxieties. According to researchers in Sweden, about five percent of people have severe dental anxiety. The researchers found five strategies people use to get over their fear of the dentist. Their findings were published in the journal, Acta Odontologica Scandinavica. Common strategies are distracting yourself (such as counting or mental games), distancing (telling yourself the pain or discomfort feels like something else), prayer, personal efficacy (telling yourself to be strong), optimism (telling yourself everything will be okay).
One of the things I always like to do whether or not a patient has fear and anxiety is to get to know them. I share a personal story and make my patients feel comfortable by asking them to tell me about themselves. I sit with them and explain diagnoses and procedures. I let patients look at the equipment I will be using. Some of my patients choose to bring earbuds and listen to their own music or an audiobook and that is perfectly fine. The important thing is to allow enough time to accommodate and make patients feel comfortable and their needs heard. Not all patients have anxiety or dental fear, but for those who do it certainly is not a deterrent to us caring for their teeth.
I recently came across some facts regarding ancient dentistry and oral care. It’s always interesting to see how much has changed and yet in some cases, I find it amazing how innovative things were for those times.
- Egyptians were reportedly the first to use toothpaste, the main ingredients of which were eggshells and pumice.
- Although they did not have toothbrushes or toothpaste, the ancient Romans of Pompeii were said to have excellent teeth because their diets were so low in sugar.
- The Mayans actually used tooth-shaped shells for dental implants! The shells contained calcium carbonate which allowed them to integrate with the bone.
- In medieval times, the Japanese used to dye their teeth black through a practice called Ohaguro which was a statement of beauty. It evidently acted as a dental sealant to prevent tooth decay as well.
- Ancient civilizations as far back as 2,500 years ago, bedazzled their teeth with semi-precious jewels, attaching the stones with adhesives made of natural resins like plant sap.
- The Etruscans were likely the first to experiment with filling gold teeth.
So, these are just a few of the interesting facts I found in ancient dentistry. What amazes me most is their ingenuity given the lack of modern resources and technology.
Saliva is made up of mostly water and also contains substances to help your body digest food.
It keeps your mouth moist.
Saliva allows you to taste, chew and swallow.
It fights germs and prevents bad breath.
Saliva contains some proteins and minerals that protect your tooth enamel and prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
Your salivary glands are located inside each cheek, near the front teeth.
The body produces about two to four pints of saliva each day on average.
Some people have medical conditions in which they produce too much (hypersalivation) or not enough (xerostomia) saliva. For a slightly dry mouth, be sure to drink plenty of water and try chewing sugar-free gum.
If you experience excessive amounts of saliva or a very dry mouth, please ask Dr. Ellison about some possible solutions.
Lately, in our practice, we have been singing the praises of using a water pik. While I still recommend flossing, I must admit that I floss less now since getting back to using a water pik regularly. It’s a whole new kind of clean. Through independent and university clinical research, studies show the benefits of using a water pik (sometimes called an oral irrigator or water flosser). Water piks improve gum health and reduce gingivitis by removing plaque and bacteria. They are able to clean between teeth and below the gum line where a toothbrush or floss may not. The pulsating flow of water is gentle on the gums and less likely to cause bleeding in people with sensitive gums that brushing and flossing sometimes do. Water piks are also great for people with limited dexterity. Often when patients hate to floss or find it uncomfortable for sensitive teeth and gums, their oral health is negatively affected. Using a water pik is a reasonable and effective alternative or addition to the regimen. People who suffer from periodontal disease and those undergoing orthodontic treatment find the water pick’s small bursts of water helpful in dislodging food particles and bacteria. I recommend using a water pik to my patients with implants as well. It also massages and increases blood flow to the gums. Water piks are a great tool for reducing discomfort while effectively cleaning the teeth and gums.
There are both home and portable versions available. Home versions use electrical outlets and portables operate on batteries. They can sometimes spray unwanted water around the counter and mirror if you aren’t careful, which is why I like to just take my portable along in the shower. Both home and portable versions offer a pulsating stream of water, but some allow you to adjust the pressure settings, which we recommend especially for sensitive teeth and gums. Our favorite water pik is a portable one that several of us in our practice have been using and really like, The Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser. And, for the record, I do not get any affiliate credit for recommending. You can find it on Amazon and Best Buy. If you have questions about this or any other water pick, please ask Dr. Ellison.
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