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Gum Disease

Gum disease or periodontal disease is a bacterial infection caused by accumulation of dental plaque on the teeth. It is a disease that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.

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YOUR ORAL HEALTH : ORAL HEALTH TOPICS

Implants

We have two sets of teeth during our lifetime. "Permanent" teeth replace the baby or deciduous teeth that we grow shortly after birth. Sometimes we can lose our permanent teeth, for example due to accidents and periodontal disease.

Man has tried for centuries to replace these lost teeth. There are examples of seashells being used as implants by the Egyptians and peasant's teeth being used by the French Aristocracy (prior to the Revolution) in a vain attempt to replace their missing ones.

The best thing is not to lose your teeth at all! Nowadays with modern prevention methods this is more possible than ever before. You are urged to preserve your remaining teeth if you still have any and there are many methods now available to straighten and preserve teeth.

If you can save your teeth for a reasonable amount of time (in excess of 10 years) then you should try. However, sometimes the bone loss (due to gum disease) has advanced to such an extent or the destruction of the crown and root of the tooth so great, that tooth loss is inevitable.

If you've lost a tooth through an accident, or can't save your teeth due to advanced gum disease, then implants may be a good option.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are used to replace a missing tooth or teeth. Dental implants are small, cleverly engineered titanium screws about the size of a tooth root which are used to support the replacement for a missing tooth or teeth. An implant is like an artificial tooth root, and is placed into the jaw bone where a tooth has been lost. One or more implants can be used, depending on the size of the space left after teeth have been lost. After a time of healing (often a few months) an artificial tooth is attached to the implant.

This can be an excellent way of replacing a missing tooth or teeth, because other natural teeth are not involved in the treatment. Treatment takes between six to twelve months to complete. Not everyone has the right jaw structure for implants. Adequate bone is required for implant placement, and there are some medical contraindications. You need a complete dental examination to find out if implants are right for you. Your gums must be healthy and your jawbone able to support the implants. Talk to your dentist to find out if you should think about dental implants.

For more information on implants visit the Dental Implants Website. This site contains very comprehensive information about implants. Although it is American based, much of the information is still useful to New Zealanders.