MANILA, DECEMBER 1, 2003 (STAR) Over 90 percent of Filipinos have dental caries while 78 percent or 55 million people have gum disease, according to the Department of Health (DOH). These alarming statistics are the reason why 85 percent of Filipino adults have missing teeth.

Losing teeth is no laughing matter. Aside from the embarrassment it brings, missing teeth can affect your appearance and the way you talk. They can limit your eating habits and curtail your social life.

For these "dental cripples," dentures or bridges may sound like a favorable option. However, these devices don’t look or feel like natural teeth and can irritate the gums. Healthy adjacent teeth also have to be destroyed to accommodate these restorative devices.

Fortunately, there’s a better way to solve the problem: dental implants. Since they were developed over 35 years ago by Swedish scientist and orthopedic surgeon Professor Per-Ingvar Branemark, dental implants have helped close to a million toothless people worldwide.

Unlike dentures, dental implants are made of titanium and last a lifetime. They are surgically implanted into the jawbone and left there for about six months for osseointegration to take place. This is the process wherein the implants fuse or attach to the bone. An abutment is later attached to each implant, serving as the foundation for the new replacement teeth.

While the technology is new, dental implants were used thousands of years ago by the ancient Egyptians. Now they are extensively used in the United States, Europe, Japan, Korea and other countries. With today’s technology, dental implants can replace a single tooth or the entire upper or lower teeth.

People with dental implants have lots of reasons to smile. Dental implants look, feel and function just like natural teeth. They stop the jawbone from shrinking (which happens when you lose a tooth) and eliminate the need to modify healthy teeth.

This results in an improved appearance, a more natural smile and greater self-confidence. Since they are anchored securely to the jawbone, dental implants also improve one’s appetite. They allow one to eat his favorite foods with comfort and confidence.

For more information on dental implants, call 843-9112 or 843-8786.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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