She has one of the most famous smiles in history. Mona Lisa, the subject of a beloved Leonardo da Vinci oil painting, sits with her lips closed in a pleasant expression. If you have teeth missing, there's a good chance you're familiar with that facial expression yourself. Careful not to expose the gaps in your smile, you keep an amiable look on your face while avoiding laughter and conversation. Going out for dinner, chatting with someone you just met, and interacting with the general public are activities you steer away from so nobody will notice what you consider an unattractive flaw.
Unless corrective treatment is taken, your self-imposed silence and closed-lip smile can have consequences. Being perceived as shy, bashful, introverted or simply quiet isn't necessarily a bad thing, but before it leads to difficulty making friends or longer-term social isolation, it's time to take charge of the situation. Your journey starts with a visit to a doctor of oral health. This individual may be either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). There's little difference between the two and, despite the formal sound of their degrees, these people are usually simply called dentists. The transformation from hiding your smile to full-fledged grinning won't happen overnight, but with the combined efforts of your dentist, a dental specialist, and your own persistence, you'll make noticeable progress at a healthy pace.
The Periodontist, the Procedure, and the Perfect Reason to Sip Soup
If it's been a while since you had a dental appointment, the initial visit will take some time. The dentist will conduct a thorough examination, including X-rays. If your gums and teeth are in generally good health, there should be little delay before you move on to the next step. If tooth decay or other issues are identified, your dentist may set up a schedule to do fillings and teeth cleaning first. There's a good reason for this, so don't be dismayed at what might seem like a long waiting time. It's important that you have optimal oral health before you proceed to the next stages, which include these:
- A referral to a periodontal specialist. This is a dentist who has had additional years of training with a focus on treating inflammation of the mouth, gum disease, and dental implant placement. Together with your dentist, the periodontist coordinates a treatment plan that includes placing the implant and maintenance as you get your smile back.
- A procedure with multiple steps. It all begins with a screw-like implant being inserted into the bone at the position on your jaw where the tooth is missing. The mere thought of it might make you squirm, but rest assured that the area will be thoroughly numbed so you won't feel pain. Next is another waiting period as the the tissue heals and the bone and implant bond. Within two to six months you'll be ready for the second round where an extension is added. Another healing period follows, although this one is measured in week instead of months. Finally, the crown is attached. Custom fit to match your existing teeth, the crown is the triumphant finish to the process for a winning smile.
- Pain control, if needed, and aftercare. Your periodontist may prescribe pain medication to help alleviate discomfort after the implant is set. Besides prescribed drugs, a combination of over-the-counter pain relievers is another option that may be recommended. You'll also be instructed to eat soft foods for a few days. Now's the time to indulge in delicious soups, smoothies, and cooked cereals. Avoid piping hot and icy cold food, as your mouth will remain sensitive for a few days after each procedure.
Soon you'll be ready for that new lease on life. Go ahead and plan a party with lots of people to celebrate. Or simply start a casual conversation with full confidence that your smile is complete. To learn more, speak with a representative from an establishment like the Oral Surgery Center.