Most people don't realize the impact of a missing tooth on their overall tooth health, but two very serious things happen, and they start to happen quickly. First, the surrounding teeth start to space out. This will make them looser, and also more susceptible to gum disease. Second is the jawbone starts to recede from the area where the tooth was. This is because having a tooth stimulates the bone, and without that stimulation the body assumes it doesn't need bone tissue in that area. You can see where, the more teeth that are missing, the more these two problems would increase.
For the past few centuries, all you could do was put a partial bridge in to fill in the area, or if there are many missing teeth, dentures. Now there are dental implants, and they are drastically better. Everyone knows the problems with dentures, and even though they're better than no teeth at all, eating is restricted, your appearance changes, and you just plain feel old. Implants , on the other hand, are as strong or stronger than regular teeth, and last a long time, while keeping the jawbone stimulated.
Essentially dental implants are porcelain crowns that are fixed to a screw that is placed directly into the jawbone. Sounds a little strange, but very effective, and the jawbone grows very quickly around them to hold them in place. It's not a particularly uncomfortable procedure, especially if a dentist uses a dental laser to prepare the gum tissue.
Implants are relatively expensive, but generally a great investment, since most likely you'll be eating for many years to come. And now many times implants can be placed in a single appointment, which is vastly different than it was even five years ago, when it would take up to six months to complete. Also, a handful of dentists are using a 3D cone-beam scanner in order to place the implants in exactly the right place. I think this is a fantastic innovation, and I hope a lot more dentists will get one soon.
To read more about dental implants and find a dentist who does them, go to www.1800dentist.com. To read more about 3D cone beam scanners, go to www.sirona.com.