Dental implants are the best option for replacing one or more missing teeth. They look very natural, function just like natural teeth, and have a very high success rate, over 95%.
But one thing that can reduce your odds of success with dental implants is if you have a bite that puts excessive force on the implants. We’ll explain why dental implants are so much more sensitive to bite force, and how to make sure your dentist can design a healthy, balanced bite.
Dental Implants Don’t Have Ligaments
Many people believe teeth are connected to the bone, but this is not true. Teeth are actually connected to what is called the periodontal ligament. The periodontal ligament is strong, but it’s also stretchy . It allows teeth to move slightly in your jaw. This gives them a little bit of cushion against the crushing force of your bite. Not only that, but when the periodontal ligament gets stretched out, it stimulates the release of osteoblasts, cells that oversee the building of new bone. This helps keep your tooth firmly anchored in the bone, even when subjected to high bite stress.
Dental implants, on the other hand, are actually anchored in the bone. When bite force is applied to the implant, it is all passed directly to the jawbone. Although the titanium dental implant is strong enough to handle the force (only 0.2% of implants break), your bone might not be able to. And without the release of additional osteoblasts, repair might not keep up with loss, which can lead the implant to lose bone and come loose.
Dental Crowns Aren’t Flexible
Teeth may not seem like, but they’re actually remarkably flexible. When you bite down and chew, your teeth compress to help absorb the force. This reduces the amount of force that gets passed on to your jawbone, protecting it.
But dental implant crowns are very rigid. They don’t flex. So, again, this passes on more of the force through the dental implant into the bone, which can suffer as a result.
(Note, however, that this squishing isn’t really good for your teeth, either. The inside of the tooth is squishier than the outside–think of a Tootsie Pop–so when it gets squished, the hard outer layer, enamel, has to crack. Enamel is a remarkable material that can crack apart and come back together again to some extent, but over time, the damage shows, especially where the enamel is thinnest, at the neck. The enamel here can flake off and cause a type of damage known as abfractions.)
Fewer Dental Implants
Another reason why dental implants might be more sensitive to bite force is that there are fewer of them to bear the load. In your natural bite, you may have 14-16 tooth roots in each arch to divide up the force of your bite.
But with dental implants, you’ll have fewer implants, perhaps as few as 4 in each arch, and probably not more than 8. This isn’t a problem for the implants–the titanium can take the punishment–but it can sometimes be a problem for your bone.
Your Implant Dentist May Have to Reconstruct Your Bite
Now that you understand why dental implants might be more sensitive, it’s also important to realize that many implant cases represent a great challenge for your dentist. If you’ve lost most or all of your teeth, you don’t have a bite that the dentist can start from in designing your implants. The bite has to be rebuilt from scratch.
And Your dentist has to design a bite that will fost healthy function and balanced forces, even though your bite may not have been healthy during the whole time you had your dentures. Building a bite up from essentially nothing takes a special set of skills.
Choose a Neuromuscular Dentist for Your Dental Implants
When you look at the challenge of rebuilding your bite properly, and the reasons why you want to make sure it’s done right, it’s a good idea to work with a neuromuscular dentist for your dental implants. Neuromuscular dentists are highly trained in the science of how your bite works, and they have the tools to measure all aspects of your bite, including the muscle strength and strain, jaw joint health, and final bite force at the implant to ensure you get a bite that is healthy and functional to support long-term success with your dental implants.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits for working with a Detroit area neuromuscular dentist for dental implants or cosmetic dentistry, please call (248) 656-2020 today for an appointment at Rochester Advanced Dentistry.