Losing a tooth used to be so exciting. Would the tooth fairy show up, would you see her? How much money would you get in exchange for that precious tooth you lost? Fast forward a few years and the excitement has faded, when the thrill of the tooth fairy, her magic wand, and your valuable baby tooth are all replaced with the pain of braces, retainers, and so much flossing! Dental issues didn’t remain fun for very long, but they grow more and more important as the years go by. Somewhere in the back of your mind you dread the day you’ll be popping your dentures out at night.
Don’t dread the dentures!
It doesn’t have to go that way. Maintaining oral health is the first step to avoiding tooth decay and gum disease treatment down the line, but there are plenty of options for getting and keeping your best smile. Visiting a periodontist is the first step. A periodontist, unlike a regular dentist, has a special focus on dental implants, as well as working in periodontal –or gum– disease, which includes inflammation and gingivitis, that scary one that is mentioned on all the toothpaste commercials.
You’re not alone in considering a dental implant procedure
Around 3 million Americans have gotten dental implants, and that number continues to grow by about 500,000 each year. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons reports that among Americans between the ages of 35 and 44, 69% have lost one or more permanent teeth, whether in an accident or to tooth decay, gum disease or a failed root canal. And looking all the way back to about 600 AD, a Mayan woman may have been the first to start the trend of dental implants, when she had pieces of a shell resembling teeth hammered into her jaw. Now that procedure sounds like one we should avoid, but a modern-day periodontist would have no problem making the experience much more humane than that unfortunate ancient one.
Some procedures to ask your periodontist about
If you’re not sure where to start the conversation, take a look at the procedures listed below for some helpful hints:
- Scaling and root planing
This is considered “conventional” therapy, and is basically giving your teeth a good deep clean, non-surgically. Getting rid of plaque, calculus, that type of thing.
- Pocket elimination surgery
Any of many surgeries that allow the surgeon to gain access to the roots of the teeth to get out bacteria and other things you don’t want down there.
- Guided bone regeneration
A surgery that uses a device called a barrier membrane to ensure the correct direction of growth of new bone and tissue.
- Crown lengthening
Another surgery, this time with the intention of exposing more of the tooth in order to restore it prosthetically.
Life doesn’t have to be over if you don’t have perfect oral health. But the sooner you do something about it, the better your smile can be for longer!