According to AAID (American Academy of Implant Dentistry), an estimated two in three Americans have one or more missing teeth, mainly due to the rise in periodontal disease as the population grows older. Tooth loss and other oral health problems in older Americans recently prompted AARP to declare the “Over 50 Dental Crisis.”
In 2006, Dental Economics reported that more than 30 million Americas are missing all their teeth in one or both jaws.
The AARP Bulletin warned that dental disease has become a silent epidemic among older Americans.Older adults with missing teeth often have underlying periodontal disease from which bacteria from chronic gum infection can migrate through the bloodstream to vital organs.Adults with missing teeth are unable to eat properly and often develop nutritional deficiencies from an inadequate or unhealthy diet.
In addition to the dental and nutritional problems associated with missing teeth, there are social and personal self-esteem concerns as well.Missing teeth have a negative influence on personalself confidence and social activities.Also, spaces between missing teeth degenerate and can lead to significant bone loss that cause atrophy in the jawbone.
Some older adults with missing teeth rely on bridgework or dentures to preserve their dental function.Bridges require grinding down healthy teeth to function as abutments to anchor the side of the bridge without the crown.Over time, worn-out bridgework can be harmful for preserving dental function and preventing bone loss in the jaw.Bridges generally fail after 5-10 years as patients have difficulty flossing them.Therefore, root surfaces below and around bridgework become highly susceptible to decay and are not reparable.As a result, teeth supporting the old bridge often are lost, requiring insertion of longer bridges that further compromise dentition.Removable dentures often are ill fitting and usually too loose.In some cases, they don’t allow their wearers to eat and even talk properly. Many feel stigmatized, avoid social functions and feel inhibited from leading an active, healthy lifestyle.
Bridgework and dentures address the cosmetic problem of missing teeth but do not prevent bone loss.Permanent implants maintain proper chewing function and exert appropriate, natural forces on the jawbone to keep it functional and healthy.
For most patients, implants are a much better treatment alternative because they preserve the bone of the jaw, do not decay, and function just like natural teeth.
Scientific evidence supports that for patients who are edentulous in the lower jaw, implant-supported fixed prostheses are superior to removable dentures.