Dental implants look and function so much like a natural tooth that it’s easy to forget they aren’t real teeth. Although the differences are small, they can actually have a big impact on how your implants respond to the stresses of biting and chewing.
A loose tooth is typically a warning sign of poor health, but even healthy teeth show some degree of movement. Your teeth aren’t directly attached to the bone: there’s a tough but flexible periodontal ligament that connects the two. Your dental implant, however, is directly attached to the bone. Ideally, it should show little to no movement.
For side-to-side movement, a healthy natural tooth can have twice the mobility of a functional dental implant. And for up and down movement–the direction most necessary for absorbing the force of biting–the difference is even more dramatic. A natural tooth may show twenty times the movement of a dental implant or more.
This means that while your natural teeth have a great deal of cushion built into them, your dental implants are more likely to experience bone loss if put under excessive force.
Your teeth have multiple ways that they can tell when they’re under excessive bite force. The tooth itself has a nerve that can feel the force, and around the tooth, there are receptors that can sense the movement of the tooth. This ensures that when your tooth is being bitten down too hard, you will know it.
Dental implants, on the other hand, can’t really communicate when they’re under excessive pressure. The only sensation you’ll feel is from the actual bone. And when you start to experience this sensation, it’s likely that bone loss is already beginning.
Because your dental implants are vulnerable to excessive bite force, it’s vital to make sure your bite is properly set up in the first place. It’s best to work with an experienced implant dentist or a team of experienced implant dentists who can properly design your implants and balance the bite to ensure healthy bite forces on dental implants.
It’s also vital that you watch out for complications of dental implants. If you do experience pain in the bone around a dental implant, it’s important to tell your implant dentist. Also make sure to report cracking, chipping, or breaking of the dental crown or the abutment attaching the crown to the dental implant.
When dental implants are properly designed, properly placed, and properly cared for, they can last a lifetime. If you want to learn how you could get lifelong results with dental implants, please call (310) 275-5325 today for an appointment at Nicolas A. Ravon, DDS, MSD.