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How to Replace a Tooth

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The media advertisements suggest that we are a nation of dental hygiene fanatics, brushing, flossing, using special dental toothpastes, designer toothbrushes and always flashing an award -winning smile. However, if we go beyond the hype we find some highly disturbing data. Let’s start with the toothbrush. The first toothbrush was commercially introduced in the United States in 1938. That means that we have a generation of seniors who most likely never saw a toothbrush, nor used one while they were growing up.

With the media advertisements, one would think that care of teeth and tooth retention would be getting better. They are not. A study conducted by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) followed 16,000 persons from 1999 to 2002. Here are some of their findings:
· The incidence of tooth decay and tooth loss rises dramatically with age. In children ages 6 to 11 the number of decayed, missing or filled teeth was .42. Fast forward to age 60+ and that number jumps to 17.46.
· From ages 2 to 5 only 29% had tooth decay, while for ages 40 to 50 the number jumps to 95%.
· 20.5% of persons age 65 lost all their teeth.
· 40 million persons were missing their back teeth.
· 10 million were without their upper teeth.
· 20 million had no teeth at all.

When it comes to wearing dentures the same study found that 20 million Americans had full or partial dentures.

Wearing dentures creates a host of problems. There is the person’s facial appearance. Toothless people tend to have that sunken look. Having to wear dentures creates psychological and social problems. Some may have speech problems.
A full plate covers 70% of the palate. The tongue and palate are where we get the taste from the foods we eat. Plate wearers lose that all- important taste. Their dentures may slip causing them to eat soft chewable, but not necessarily nutritious foods. Continuous plate use can cause irritation, gum and bone loss.

As an alternative to dentures we are seeing growing acceptance of dental implants. We have a 40-year track record and a 97% success rate using implants. To begin the process we first make an appointment with an Implant Dentist. He/she will explain the steps taken, length of time required and costs. The Implant Dentist will make a mould of the patient’s bite and note the color of his/her teeth. Next, he/she would implant a titanium screw-like fixture surgically into the jaw. Then the patient is sent home to give time for the implant to heal and bond to the jawbone. While this is going on, the Implant Dentist will make a tooth that resembles the color of the patient’s other teeth and fits the bite mould. The patient then returns to the office for the final step. The technology used with implants is just amazing. The implant has a “snap.” The denture has a corresponding “snap” and the implant tooth is snapped into place. The beauty of this procedure is that the denture can be removed and cleaned when necessary.

Implants provide a solid bite. The patient can eat more nutritious foods. He/she gains added confidence and enjoys a better quality of life.

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