The use of dental implants as a means to replace missing teeth started in the mid 1960’s and because of its effectiveness (according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons AAOMS, dental implants have an overall success rate of 95% when performed by qualified practitioners), it has become more and more popular over time. Dental implants in Costa Rica have become so popular in recent years that a small number of dentists, including Dr. Simon Flikier have chosen to study abroad in some of the most acclaimed Universities to attain their specializations in prosthodontics.
Before the advent of the dental implants, dentists relied on dentures or bridges, these prosthetics’ main purpose is that of improving chewing function in patients and aesthetics. However, studies have determined that the loss of teeth has a direct correlation to loss of bone mass in the jaw, which over time could result in collapsed facial structure and premature aging.
How does tooth loss affect jawbone density?
Jawbones are developed while still in the womb, right at the time when tooth buds, (that will later become baby and adult teeth) start forming, and this connection between maxillary structure and teeth continues for the rest of a person’s life.
Just like a tooth is necessary for the jawbone to develop, stimulation of it is necessary, to maintain its density and overall health. While chewing compression and tensing forces provide the necessary stimulation to the jawbone that signals the body the necessity of maintaining a certain bone mass in order to properly function. When a tooth or series of teeth are lost, the absence of this stimulation will cause a decrease in bone density in the surrounding area, this bone loss is accentuated by the use of traditional dentures.
Therefore, untreated tooth loss will shrink the jawbone also known as resorption, and eventually lead to a condition known as atrophic facial bone and muscle and skin collapse. This side effect of permanent tooth loss is generally not explained by dentists which elucidates the lack of understanding from the general public.
This issue is one of the reasons why the Flikier Dental Institute has invested heavily in obtaining the most advance technology for dental implants in Costa Rica and the world. The doctors at the institute recognize the threat to a patient’s quality of life both in physiological as well as psychological terms.
What are the consequences of permanent tooth loss?
As explained before, the continuous loss of facial bone mass due to extractions will eventually compromise the ability of both the upper and lower dental arches to support prosthetic dentures. In extreme cases, the nerves that surround the bone could become exposed and cause unimaginable pain for the patient. Because of misinformation and the fact that these changes occur gradually over the course of years, most patients learn to adapt not knowing there are options available for them.
The difference in chewing forces between a person with natural teeth and one who uses dentures or partial dentures is staggering, and unfortunately decreases as jawbone mass is lost, resulting in the patient’s inability to eat certain foods including fruits and vegetables which could lead to digestive problems over time.
As far as aesthetics are concern, it is no secret that a young looking face requires a good bone structure to support both the facial muscles and skin; the loss of bone density due to untreated permanent tooth loss is one of the causes of premature aging. For example, a decreased facial height (the distance from the nose to the chin) can occur due to a decrease in jawbone volume, once this happens, wrinkles around the mouth will form, lips will lose volume becoming thin and the corners of the mouth will have a downward appearance.
What are the advantages of dental implants versus traditional dentures?
Now a day, with the advances in technology in the dental field, the use of dentures is not considered the best option for patients who have missing teeth. The most recommended treatment for these patients is dental implants, which not only solve the problem of gaps in the smile but also provide the necessary stimulation to the jawbone to support its growth and maintain its volume and density.
The goal of every doctor and dental professional who works at The Flikier Dental Institute is to help each patient recover the level of oral health they once had, improving their quality of life for the long term at an affordable price.
Dental implant procedures in Costa Rica offer the best quality for a fraction of the price they would normally cost in the United States or Europe, most procedures are outpatient and do not require hospitalization which provides the unique opportunity to visit the many beautiful sights the country has to offer.