Dental Implants: Modern Replacements for Missing Teeth
People are living longer than ever, and while regular brushing, flossing, and checkups allow many of us to maintain our natural smiles for a lifetime, sometimes our teeth just can’t keep up. If you’ve lost a tooth (or a few teeth) due to injury or disease, dental implants can rejuvenate both your smile and your oral health.
What are Dental Implants?
An implant is a synthetic tooth root in the shape of a post that is surgically placed into the jawbone. The “root” is usually made of titanium: the same material used in many replacement hips and knees, and a metal that is well-suited to pairing with human bone. A replacement tooth is then fixed to the post. The tooth can be either permanently attached or removable. Permanent teeth are more stable and feel more like natural teeth. They are an ideal tooth replacement procedure because they look and feel like natural teeth. Studies show that dental implants have a 95 percent success rate in most cases.
Why Choose Implants?
Implants are great for patients who are unable to wear dentures. Instead, the dentist will place the implant directly into the jawbone to support permanently cemented bridges. Implants can be made from several different types of metallic and bone-like ceramic materials that are compatible with body tissue. When surgically anchored into the jawbone, the implant fuses with living bone in a process known as “osseointegration”. After your mouth heals, usually in three to six months, your doctor will place a permanent crown over the post to complete your smile restoration.
An accident, injury, or disease can cause tooth loss. Having an incomplete smile may damage your self-esteem and cause oral health problems. Without a replacement tooth, the remaining teeth shift and the bone can start to deteriorate. Dental implants can replace missing teeth and allow patients to lead the full, active lives they deserve. The ideal candidate for implants is a non-smoker who has good oral health, including a sufficient amount of bone in the jaw, and healthy gums with no sign of gum disease.
Single or Multiple Implants
Implants are versatile. If you are only missing one tooth, one implant plus one replacement tooth will do the trick. If you are missing several teeth in a row, a few strategically placed implants can support a permanent bridge (a set of replacement teeth). Similarly, if you have lost all of your teeth, a full bridge or full denture can be permanently fixed in your mouth with a strategic number of implants.
Advantages Over Dentures or Bridges
Conventional bridges and dentures are not fixed to the bone, and can therefore be unstable. This can make it difficult to eat or smile with confidence. Implants not only look more natural, but feel and act more like normal teeth, with a stronger biting force. And because they don’t directly rely on neighboring teeth for support, implants don’t compromise the health of your natural teeth. In fact, bridges are only expected to last seven to ten years, even less with root canals, whereas implants will typically last a lifetime.
Consider your replacement teeth to be the same as natural teeth. They require the same daily brushing and flossing, and the same amount of regular checkups. Just like your natural teeth, the better you take care of your replacements, the longer they will last.
FAQs about Dental Implants
Do I really need to replace one tooth?
A missing tooth leaves a gap in your smile, which can make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. As well, even one lost tooth can damage your oral health by causing other oral health problems. Dental implants can replace one tooth or the whole mouth full, giving you back a solid, healthy smile.
Am I a candidate for implants?
For successful implant placement, you need to be in good overall health, have good dental health, and sufficient bone structure. Your dentist will perform a full evaluation to see if dental implants would fit your personal situation.
How do I care for my implants?
Treat your implants like you would your natural teeth. Brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, and schedule routine checkups with the dentist. Following these steps will make for successful implant therapy and a gorgeous smile.
What are implant-supported dentures?
If you are not a candidate for dental implants to replace all your teeth, your dentist may recommend implant-supported dentures, which will create a more secure situation with your dental appliance. With implant-supported dentures, several titanium posts are placed in your jaw bone so that the denture can snap onto the implants, reducing slippage and improving comfort.
How much do dental implants cost?
Because each case is unique, it is impossible to estimate the cost of implants until you meet with your dentist. After a complete exam, your doctor will explain the findings and review treatment options, which will include the cost of the implants.