If you’re missing one or more teeth, it’s important to choose a way to replace them. When exploring the alternatives, don’t forget about dental implants! This remarkable technology is becoming more and more popular with dentists and their patients, and with good reason: implants offer a variety of benefits that other tooth-replacement options just don’t. And the procedure is much more common than you may think. In fact, in the U.S. alone dentists perform over 5 million implant procedures each and every year. If you’re considering an implant to replace a missing tooth, or to anchor your dentures or your dental prosthetics, we’ve compiled this information to explain the advantages of the best dental implants.
What is a Dental Implant?
An implant consists of a tiny metal rod that is inserted through the gum tissue and into the jawbone of the patient. If the implant is intended to replace a missing tooth, once the fusing is complete the dentist affixes an abutment and a crown to the top of the implant. Implants that are designed to serve as anchors for dentures or dental prosthetics are often equipped with another type of connector that attaches to the denture/prosthetic.
There are many advantages of dental implants for dentists and patients alike:
- Implants can be used for a variety of purposes. As we mentioned briefly above, an implant can be used to either replace one or more missing teeth or to anchor dentures or dental prosthetics. Those that anchor dentures usually have a “snap-on/snap-off” feature that allows patients to remove their dentures, while dental prosthetics are often permanently attached to the implants that support them.
- Implants feel like natural teeth. Because the metal rod that is inserted into the jawbone of the patient actually fuses to the bone tissue, it creates what is essentially an artificial tooth root. That means that once a replacement tooth is affixed to the top of the implant, it feels exactly like a natural tooth.
- Implants are totally stable and secure inside the patient’s mouth. One of the most common complaints of patients who wear traditional dentures or bridges is that the appliance moves around inside the mouth. This can negatively impact the way a person speaks, and it can make it difficult to enjoy some foods. But this is not a problem for people with dental implants. Because the replacement tooth is attached to a metal rod that has fused to the patient’s jawbone, the implant is 100% secure and does not move inside the mouth. For this reason, implants are often used as anchors for people who wear dentures or dental prosthetics – they eliminate the need for messy denture adhesives, allow the person to enjoy whatever foods they like, and enable the wearer to feel completely confident when speaking.
- Implants look exactly like natural teeth. An implant with a crown affixed to the top looks exactly like the patient’s other natural teeth. This is due to the dentist’s ability to exactly match the shade of the crown with the natural shade of the patient’s other teeth. So whether your replacement tooth is made from porcelain or a composite material, it will look just like a natural tooth.
- Implants improve your overall oral health. Other tooth replacement options – such as bridges or partials, for example – can negatively impact the surrounding natural teeth, which often act as support for the tooth-replacement option. But because implants are supported by the artificial tooth root that is created when the metal rod fuses to the jawbone, the patient’s other natural teeth are not impacted at all. And implants can actually prevent bone loss. When you lose a tooth, the body naturally reabsorbs the bone tissue in the location of that missing tooth. Over time, this can result in bone loss and even create a “sunken” appearance on the face of the patient. But when your dentist inserts a metal rod into your jawbone, it actually encourages bone growth around the rod during the recovery process. This helps to prevent bone loss and maintain your natural face shape. No other tooth replacement option stimulates bone growth.
- Implants are easy to care for. Unlike some other methods for replacing missing teeth – such as partial dentures and bridges, for example – implants require no special care at all. In fact, you simply perform your daily hygiene routine as you normally would and, of course, visit your dentist at least twice a year for exams and professional cleanings.
- Implants last for a long time. That is an understatement! The fact is that implants are designed to last for several decades. In most instances, assuming the patient takes good care of their teeth and gums and visits the dentist regularly, implants can actually last for a lifetime. Bridges, on the other hand, usually need to be replaced every 5 to 15 years, and dentures typically need to be replaced every 5 to 8 years.
As you can see, implants offer many advantages for patients! But it’s important to remember that they may not be the right choice for everyone. If you’re a smoker, for example, your dentist may recommend some other tooth replacement option. And if you have compromised jawbone density, you may require a bone graft procedure beforehand in order to strengthen your bone tissue enough to accommodate the implant.
The only way to know for sure whether or not you are a good candidate for a dental implant is to schedule an appointment with your dentist. He or she can assess your current oral health and provide more information about the advantages of the best dental implants. While implant surgery is becoming more and more common, not every dentist offers this service. If your oral health provider doesn’t perform implant surgery, he or she should be able to refer you to another dentist or oral surgeon who does. So if you’re looking for a permanent tooth replacement option, call your dentist today! You could be just a phone call away from enjoying all the advantages of this remarkable dental technology.