You may have heard about dental implants. These incredible dental restorations are providing many people with the opportunity to replace missing teeth with a safe, durable, permanent solution. In fact, getting a new dental implant is about as close as you can come to getting a brand new natural tooth. That’s one of the many reasons why implants have become increasingly popular over the past several years. But, as is always the case, a lot of the information you hear from other people and read on the Internet is questionable at best. As a result, several myths have formed about dental implants, some of which may dissuade you from even asking your dentist about these restorations in the first place. So we’re taking this opportunity to debunk some of those myths and provide you with the truth about dental implants.
Let’s begin by briefly describing the steps involved in getting a new dental implant. It’s important to keep in mind that these steps can vary depending on the individual, but generally speaking they include:
- The dentist makes a tiny incision in the patient’s gum tissue, exactly where the missing tooth was located, and inserts a tiny metal rod into the patient’s jawbone.
- After a period of a few months, the implant fuses to the patient’s bone tissue, and the dentist affixes a porcelain crown to the top of the implant.
Now that you have a general idea about the procedure, let’s move onto dispelling some of those myths.
Myth #1: Implant procedures are rarely successful in the long run. If you’ve heard this rumor, it’s no wonder that you aren’t interested in getting an implant! The truth is that dental implants have a remarkably high success rate – typically between 95% and 98%. Remember that this technology has been around now for several years, and during that time the technique and the materials used in implants have been perfected. Just make sure that you choose a dentist with a good deal of experience in performing the procedure.
Myth #2: The process involved in getting a new implant is painful. While there’s no doubt that the procedure is called “dental implant surgery” because of the steps involved, getting a new dental implant is typically no more uncomfortable for the patient than any other dental procedure. First of all, the surgery is done on an outpatient basis, usually right in the dentist’s office. And thanks to a combination of local anesthesia and some form of dental sedation, the patient rarely feels any discomfort at all. Afterwards, when recovering at home, the patient can simply use over-the-counter pain medicine for a few days in addition to gargling with salt water. And in a very short period of time – typically two or three days later – the patient can return to their normal daily activities.
Myth #3: You have to go to great lengths to properly care for a dental implant. We’re not sure how this rumor started, but the truth is just the opposite. In fact, many patients consider one of the greatest advantages of dental implants is that they require no special care whatsoever. Unlike other tooth-replacing methods – such as partials or dentures, for example – implants simply need to be brushed and flossed along with your other teeth. So whatever your current oral hygiene routine is now can remain exactly the same with dental implants.
Myth #4: Implants are designed for patients who have lost all of their teeth. This myth does, in fact, contain a grain of truth. Whether you’re missing one tooth or several teeth, dental implants can be an excellent way to replace those teeth. For people who have lost all of their teeth, implants are most often used as an anchors for dentures or dental prosthetics. In these patients, the dentist will strategically place dental implants (typically between two and eight) at certain points throughout the person’s mouth. These implants securely hold custom-made dentures, usually referred to as “implant-supported dentures.”
Myth #5: Implants are very durable and don’t last long. In fact, just the opposite is true! Because the implant rod fuses to the jawbone of the patient before a crown is attached to the top, implants are the strongest, most durable of all tooth-replacing restorations. Once the crown is affixed to the top of the implant, the artificial tooth essentially functions exactly the same as any other natural tooth. And, if properly cared for, an implant can last for the lifetime of the patient.
Myth #6: Implants are designed for senior citizens. While it’s true that people do have a greater tendency to lose teeth as they age, making them more likely candidates for tooth-replacement options, implants are not strictly intended for the elderly. In fact, adults of any age can benefit from implants, although they are not designed for young children and teenagers. If you’re an adult with an adequate amount of jawbone tissue to accommodate the implant, this type of restoration is often an excellent way to replace one or more missing teeth.
Myth #7: Dental implants are just too expensive. Of course it’s true that dental implant surgery is relatively costly. Just consider the complexity of the procedure, the materials involved, and the expertise required on the part of the dentist. But that doesn’t mean that implants are “too expensive.” In fact, some dental insurance policies will cover a portion of the cost. And most dentists are happy to work out some sort of a payment plan for their patients.
The truth about dental implants is this: it’s a remarkably effective dental technology that can quite literally improve the quality of a patient’s life in so many ways. Whether you’re missing a single tooth, a few teeth, or all your teeth, choosing dental implants as your tooth-replacement option will provide you with a safe, durable, permanent solution. Of course, implants may not be the best choice for everyone, and you should ask your dentist whether you’re a good candidate for this procedure. But if you are, we’re guessing that you’ll be just as pleased with the outcome as the countless number of dental patients around the world who now live happily and comfortably with their dental implants.