Dental implants represent one of the most significant advances in modern dentistry. In the past, the only options available to those with missing teeth were dentures or bridges, each of which carried significant problems. In contrast, dental implants provide an aesthetically pleasing and downright comfortable solution for those missing teeth due to injury or tooth decay. But what are they, and how do they work? Here are some ways dental implants can repair your smile to answer that question.
1. The Good Stuff
Dental implants have the appearance and feel of normal teeth, lending an extra boost of self-confidence. Those accustomed to hiding their smile due to a large gap caused by a missing tooth or because of teeth riddled with decay will feel comfortable smiling with dental implants. However, the advantages are not merely cosmetic.
Dental implants make eating and speaking much easier than dentures or bridges. This is because the dental implant procedure involves a titanium post secured into the jaw and holds the tooth in place much like a natural root. This means that, unlike dentures, implants won’t loosen, allowing the patient to eat and chew their food as they would with a full set of teeth. Beyond that, dental implants offer significant oral health benefits, prevent bone resorption, and are much easier to clean than bridges (which are notoriously difficult due to their placement atop other teeth).
2. Prevention of Bone Loss
In addition to replacing missing or decaying teeth, dental implants also prevent the loss of jawbone tissue while guarding against further bone loss. As mentioned earlier, this is because dental implants replicate the functionality of a tooth root.
3. Success Rates
Not surprisingly, dental implants have greater longevity than bridges or dentures. And the technology is only continuing to improve. However, remember that the best candidates for dental implants are those in good health. For the procedure to work as intended, the jawbone must be able to grow around the implant. This process is called osseointegration. After it is successfully installed, the implant will function like a normal tooth, providing adequate stimulation to the jawbone and exhibiting typical regeneration.
4. Proper Care
For an implant to succeed, the patient must have good oral health habits. This means brushing and flossing teeth twice per day with a mechanical or interdental toothbrush capable of easily traversing between teeth. It also means visiting the dentist regularly or every six months. This way, they can ensure the implant remains in good condition for years. Proper care also means no chewing on hard foods. So say goodbye to the days of hard candy and ice, each of which can cause significant damage to both crowns and normal teeth.
5. I Don’t Have Enough Bone. Can I Still Get an Implant?
As mentioned above, the dental implant procedure requires a significant amount of jawbone to succeed. Unfortunately, those with untreated tooth loss or problems with their dentures are likely already experiencing jawbone degeneration. While not ideal, this does not stop those with jawbone loss from receiving implants. Depending on where the bone has grown soft, implants can still be installed after a bone graft or sinus lift. A bone graft is required when the jawbone is too thin, while a sinus lift is required when the bone in the upper jaw or sinuses is too close to the jaw itself.
6. Prepare for the Cost
Unfortunately, more and more insurance companies refuse to cover the costs of a dental implant, rendering the overall procedure much more expensive. How expensive? Implants can cost anywhere between $1000 and $2000 per tooth, which doesn’t include the crown cost. However, don’t let cost be a deterrent. Few things are as socially and functionally important as a healthy smile, and there are still plenty of options in terms of financial assistance.
Those with unanswered questions about implants should consult their dentist before committing to the procedure. That way, any potential problems can be identified and dealt with before the installation.
A Dental implant is a tooth made of a titanium post with a replacement tooth (crown) attached to the top. Dental implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth, anchor a dental bridge, or a full arch of teeth.
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