Periodontitis and gingivitis are types of gum diseases very common among people all over the world. Gingivitis is caused by bacterial infection in the mouth when proper dental care is not observed, and may lead to periodontitis if it goes untreated for long time. Gum disease is one of the major reasons for tooth loss in adults.
The teeth have roots in the bone mass below the gumline. The edges of the gum where the tooth ends and gum begins is called sulcus. Food particles get trapped here which allows plaque and bacteria to grow and infest the gums. When plaque begins to grow below gumline, you will get gingivitis. This will further develop and cause the bone tissue get affected, making the tooth loosen and fall.
What is bone loss?
Bone loss is a condition where your bone becomes less dense causing it to become brittle and break easily. Bones loose density due to many factors, including age, lack of calcium and vitamin D and phosphorus. Bones keep changing throughout the lifespan and the body continue to absorb bones which are old and are not in use and create new bones using the same. As long as there is a balance between old bones re absorbed and new bones created, the bone structure remains healthy. Bone loss occurs when old bone is absorbed back in the body but new bone is not created in enough.
Smoking, diet, alcohol, genes, medical conditions and age are factors that can result in bone loss.
What is a dental implant?
Dental implants are a prosthetic replacement for lost or missing teeth. It is a metal (usually titanium, because it is easily accepted by the body, very rarely rejected) screw that is placed into the jaw bone through surgery and allowed to stay there till it is surrounded by and fixed into the bone with bone tissues. It may take between 3 to 6 months or more, depending on the general health of the patient. The steel screw becomes the new root for replacement of the tooth that can be placed on top of the implant with the help of an abutment. This implant gets totally entrenched in the bone with bone tissue that has grown around it, and acts as a real root, capable of supporting a tooth crown or a bridge to fill the gap of many missing teeth. Because the artificial root is surrounded by the bone tissue, it does all the work that is expected from a natural tooth root. This process is called osseointegration.
Patients who are suffering from gum disease benefit with dental implants not only by getting new replaced teeth but also with getting rid of the gum disease and decay of the gums.
Dental implant and gum disease
Since dental implant is placed into the jawbone, the dentist will have to make sure, there is no bacteria left in the gums, otherwise the implant will not be able to get surrounded by dental bone tissues. The gums will be cleaned and checked many times to make them free of bacteria. This will help the patient to get healthy gums which will support the dental implant. Once the gum disease is out of the way, the implant will become more rooted and allow for crowns to be placed on top so that the patient can get healthy and beautiful smile without the fear of getting gum disease and losing teeth.
The dental implant can remain in place only if the gums are clean and free of bacteria. Due to this reason the patient takes extra care for oral hygiene and follows the dentist’s advice to the T.
Bone loss and Dental Implant
In many cases the surgeon has to support the jaw bone with a graft called alveolar bone graft. A bone from cadaver or synthetic bone is placed in the jaw bone to get a more stable base for the implant. When there is a lot of bone loss due to resorption a different kind of bone graft has to take place. In cases where bone loss has to be corrected, the surgeon will perform onlay bone graft, where the graft will be placed on top of the remaining jaw bone. This procedure is more invasive, and takes about six months to heal. Once the bone graft is completely merged with the existing jawbone, the bone will become strong enough to support the implant. The reinforced bone is now able to allow growth of bone tissue around the implant making it stable and root it to the bone that can support the crown on top of it. Within a few months the implant becomes one with the grafted bone and will behave like a natural root.
The success rate for bone graft in cases where the bone loss was substantial is very high and many people get good results even after bone loss.
The grafting of synthetic or other bone helps the body to initiate new bone development making the dental implant surgery viable.
Be vigilant for recurring gum disease and bone loss
It is vital that the patient takes care of his implant and new crowns with diligence. The strict oral hygiene routine has to be followed consisting of brushing and flossing. If the bone has regrown after bone loss, it is important to look after the diet, and include minerals required for bone mass like calcium phosphorus and vitamin D. Caution with the kind of foods also plays an important role in the success of preventing gum disease and bone loss. Avoiding sugar for teeth health and diabetes is important because diabetes and heart disease complicate dental implant treatment.
The life style changes are also required like smoking and alcohol consumption. Alcohol and smoking affect bone structures and may harm the healing process of the graft and bone tissue growth. Smoking is also detrimental because of risks of cancer of the mouth and gums.