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Browsing 2 posts in dental implants.

Cavemen didn’t need hip replacements

If you were born in the paleolithic era, you could expect to live to be 33 years old. The global average life expectancy in 2010 was more than double this number at 67 years. Advances in hygiene, food production, medical care are among the reasons for this and we should all be thankful for this.

Primitive man

His hips are the last thing on his mind.

But on the bright side for the cavemen…they didn’t need hip replacements. If you were 35 years old you were likely the oldest person in your tribe and had probably outlived everyone you’ve ever known. But you hadn’t really lived long enough to wear your joints out.

Fast forward to the United States in the early 21st century and you’ll find that 2.3% of Americans have had a hip replaced and 4.6% have had a knee replaced. More than a million joint replacements will be done this year and that number continues to grow. Hip and knee replacements are surgeries that improve a patient’s quality of life in a big way. And we Americans are all about quality of life!

I want you to picture your lower molars. Your lower “first molars” came in somewhere around 6 years old. So for that same 50 year old we talked about above, these teeth have been tolerating chewing, hot coffee, cold ice cream and the occasional unpopped kernel of popcorn for 44 years. Think about that. 44 years! How old is your car? If you’re like most people it’s probably less than 5 years old and maybe 10 on the outside. But if you’ve got your first molars, they’ve been laboring for you since you were 6 years old!

a molar that could use some help

This molar has a long life to live…if it gets a little help.

Teeth wear out, too. If you happen to be particularly kind to them (avoiding sugary or acidy foods, not grinding your teeth, not chewing ice cubes, not smoking, not drinking super hot liquids followed by freezing cold ice cream, etc.) they may well last your entire lifetime. But if your dentist tells you you’re going to need a crown, don’t feel too bad. Crowns are kind of like the knee replacements of dentistry. Dentists can give that tooth a new life with a procedure that’s a heck of a lot easier than a hip replacement! Even more…if you happen to lose a tooth, we can replace that tooth with an implant that looks and functions almost exactly like the real thing!

If you were a caveman, your first molars would have only had to last about 27 years. And since cavemen didn’t have refined sugars in just about everything they ate, most of them did just fine. You are not a caveman. Your life expectancy is very likely well over 70 years old. You are going to wear your parts out. That’s not disease. That’s the awesome nature of living twice as long as a caveman!

The next time your dentist diagnoses you with a cracked tooth that needs fixing  you shouldn’t be upset at all. Let it be a reminder that you are benefitting from all the advances that the cavemen didn’t have.

And get that crown done. Those molars have to last a long time yet!

Did you find this post all ageless? Lively? I’d love to hear about it! You can share any Mead Family Dental post with a “Like” on Facebook, a “+1″ on Google+ or you can even “Tweet” it with Twitter! All you need to do is hover over the heart shaped button next to the title of the post. Or you can leave a comment by clicking on the balloon shaped icon next to the title.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own emails!

 

Dental Implants: the Jaw Bone Time Machine

bone loss dentureBone loss.

Two words that have become familiar to anyone who watches TV. Osteoporosis, or decreasing bone density, is a common problem as we age. Although it is painless, it can increase risk of bone fracture which can precipitate all kinds of debilitating problems. So now, every time you turn on the television you see ads for medications that help prevent or slow bone loss due to osteoporosis.

Dentists see a very different kind of bone loss. Have you ever noticed that our stereotyped vision of an old person almost always includes that “caved in face” look around their mouth? That’s bone loss, too. But it’s a very specific kind of bone loss.

Our jawbones have a couple different kinds of bone. The part of the bone that holds the teeth in place is called alveolar bone. This kind of bone sits on top of the basal bone of our top and bottom jaws. The interesting thing about the alveolar bone is that it only serves to hold our teeth in place. If we lose a tooth, the alveolar bone that used to support that tooth shrinks away.

Mandible labelledAlveolar bone shrinks away differently with different people, but for the most part a person loses 40-60% of the alveolar bone around a tooth that is removed within the first year. 40-60%! Worse than that, the more teeth someone loses, the more alveolar bone they’ll lose!

You might be thinking “what’s the big deal? So I lose a little bone. I won’t even notice it.”

Well, maybe. If you don’t want to replace the tooth this might not be that big of a deal. If you replace the tooth with something removable (a denture or a partial) you’ll find that it continues to fit more poorly as you lose bone. If you replace the tooth with a bridge you might notice a space opening underneath the “fake” tooth. Or possibly the teeth holding the bridge in place begin to lose support as well.

“O.K., Doc. I get it. I don’t want to lose bone in my jaw. What can I do?”

I’m glad you asked! So it turns out that you can maintain that alveolar bone by replacing teeth with dental implants! Most people have heard that dental implants are a great treatment for replacing missing teeth. But did you know that placing a dental implant will help you maintain that alveolar bone? What a cool side effect!

When you place a dental implant it acts a lot like the tooth that was lost. The alveolar bone is maintained to hold the implant in place and you get tooth-like function and esthetics to boot! Dental implants kind of act like a time machine for your jaw bone by turning back the effects of alveolar bone loss!

Did you find this post timely? Restorative? I’d love to hear about it! You can share any Mead Family Dental post with a “Like” on Facebook, a “+1″ on Google+ or you can even “Tweet” it with Twitter! All you need to do is hover over the heart shaped button next to the title of the post. Or you can leave a comment by clicking on the balloon shaped icon next to the title.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own emails!