By leaving a large gap between your teeth, a missing tooth can invite several dental health problems, including tooth decay and gum disease. These bacterial infections can spread and ultimately lead to further tooth loss. That’s why the staff at Stephen Lockwod, DMD, MAGD General Dentistry, in La Jolla, CA encourage you to explore the tooth replacement option of dental implants, the leading restorative solution in the United States. By supporting one or more permanent replacement teeth, implants can help eliminate much of the increased risk of tooth decay associated with tooth loss. Easy to clean and permanent, tooth implants can help protect your oral wellbeing, while revitalizing your smile.
The Anatomy of a Tooth
The human tooth is composed of two major parts: the root and the crown, which is the part you see when you look in the mirror. The crown is composed of several layers of different kinds of tissues, each of which performs specific functions vital to the health of your teeth. The major tissues are:
- Enamel: The enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth. The hardest substance in our body, enamel is highly mineralized and helps to protect the tissues beneath it from harm.
- Dentin: Also highly mineralized, dentin helps back the layer of enamel and acts as an additional form of protection. It also contains several microscopic passageways that distributes nutrition throughout the tooth.
- Cementum: Another hard tissue, although not to the same degree as enamel or dentin, cementum protects the tooth root from damage and helps to hold the tooth in place by anchoring it into the underlying jawbone.
- Pulp: This is the center of the tooth and is comprised of connective tissue, nerve tissue, lymph and blood vessels, as well as odontoblasts, which can produce dentin. Protected by the layers of dentin and enamel, if the pulp is exposed this typically results in undue sensitivity and pain.
Tooth Decay Troubles
Missing teeth can create significant gaps in our smile that act as food traps when we eat. The carbohydrates, or sugars, in the food happen to be the kind of molecules that the bacteria in our mouth are attracted to. These bacteria ferment the carbohydrates into an acid that strips the minerals from the enamel, dentin, and cementum, gradually seeping through the various layers of the tooth until it reaches the pulp. This is a phenomenon known as tooth decay, which you may know as cavities. If caught early, cavities can be treated with a dental filling or, if the decay has spread to the pulp, by means of root canal therapy. If the tooth decay is extensive, the tooth may need to be extracted, in which case dental implants are an ideal replacement.
By replacing a missing tooth with an implant, that food trap can be eliminated and the risk of oral infection decreases. Furthermore, and unlike alternative restorative treatments, dental implants are easy to clean, meaning maintaining healthy oral hygiene is as easy as brushing your teeth twice per day and flossing once daily. That means that you don’t have to worry about tooth decay resulting from the buildup of gunk on your removable denture or the trapping of debris in your dental crown. Dental implants make keeping a healthy mouth easy, essentially as if you were never missing a tooth at all.
Protect Yourself with Dental Implants
Not only can tooth loss increase the risk of dental infections, like tooth decay and gum disease, it can also lead to bone loss and a host of other oral health problems. Remember, prevention is the best medicine. With dental implants you can help decrease the likelihood of complications to your dental wellbeing, so you don’t have to worry about your health and allowing you to focus on living the good life. The road to a brilliant, healthy smile starts at our La Jolla, CA office; schedule your free one-on-one consultation with Dr. Lockwood today!