Posted April 14, 2017
Tooth loss can occur for a variety of reasons: decay, gum disease, accidents, illness or wear and tear from excessive chewing and teeth grinding. Over two-thirds of Americans age 35 to 44 have lost at least one tooth, reports the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Many have crown and bridge replacements for missing teeth, but dental implants also are a popular choice.
Preventive dental care
It is possible to prevent tooth loss by scheduling regular appointments for a dental checkup and cleaning. During the exam, the dentist will evaluate your dental health and identify any concerns. Detecting dental health problems at an early stage will help avoid costly procedures. Dental insurance plans help cover the cost and preventive care is usually covered. Learn tips on taking care of you and your teeth (and even your dog’s teeth) by watching these videos.
Dental implant infection
Currently, 3 million people have implants, and that number continues to grow by 500,000 annually. Dental implants are made using titanium, a strong metal, and are implanted surgically into the jawbone. As the jaw heals, the bone forms around the implant creating a durable foundation. Although most people experience few problems with implants, common mouth germs can attack the bone, create an infection, and cause an implant to fail. Fortunately, researchers are studying new implant designs to prevent this problem.
Researchers at KU Leuven in Belgium are testing a dental implant design with a drug reservoir built into the implant. The reservoir is filled with an antimicrobial drug prescribed by the dentist, which releases slowly into the bone to fight infection.
Initial testing shows this design is effective in preventing and eliminating bacteria. However, additional study is needed to determine whether it is strong enough to withstand rigorous chewing and teeth grinding.
In a different study conducted at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, researchers discovered defects in many implants. A review of 100 used implants revealed that 60 percent or more were fractured or defective. Damaged implants must be surgically removed, which can cause additional trauma to the patient’s dental health. Researchers are studying whether cracks occur from manufacturing flaws and/or excessive chewing or teeth grinding.