ONE OF THE MOST important goals dentists — and especially endodontists — have is to help our patients keep their natural teeth whenever possible, and modern advancements are saving more teeth all the time. Why, you may ask? What makes a natural tooth better than, say, dental implants, especially if the tooth requires a lot of dental work to save?
Peri-Implant Mucositis And Peri-Implantitis
Nearly half of all adults in the US have some form of gum disease, ranging from gingivitis to advanced periodontitis. It’s also possible to develop gum disease around an implant. What makes gum disease around an implant different is that, because implants lack the physical barrier to bacteria that natural teeth have, inflammation can spread faster.
In the early stages, affecting only the gum tissue, it’s called peri-implant mucositis. If caught early enough, peri-implant mucositis is reversible. As it worsens, gum disease around an implant can become peri-implantitis, and at this point, the bone around the post begins to deteriorate, which threatens the entire implant. Peri-implantitis typically requires surgical treatment.
Faster Healing With Natural Teeth
The way our gums heal from injuries all depends on the quality of the blood supply to the area, but the surgery to place a dental implant may compromise that blood supply, slowing tissue regeneration and leaving more scars. The gum tissue around a natural tooth is typically better at recovering from damage and infection.
Implants Versus Bone Tissue
Of the options for replacement teeth, implants are definitely the best for preserving bone tissue in the jaw, but they’re still not as good as natural teeth. Basically, natural teeth come with a suspension system: the periodontal ligament. These help absorb and distribute the impact pressure when we chew. Implants are metal posts placed into the jaw bone without that barrier in between. Some pressure is important for maintaining the bone, but too much can cause bone loss.
Greater Risk Of Attachment Breakdown With Implants
The periodontal ligament keeps a natural tooth snugly attached to the gum tissue. As mentioned previously, implants don’t have periodontal ligaments, so the seal between an implant and the gum tissue is more likely to break down due to bacteria. At that point, tissue loss proceeds more rapidly than with natural teeth.
Let’s Save That Tooth!
A damaged or diseased tooth can’t always be saved through root canal therapy, but even imperfect natural anatomy is often better than an implant. That’s why we do everything we can at our practice to save our patients’ teeth. Time tends to make dental problems worse, so if you have a tooth you’re concerned about, give us a call or schedule an appointment!