When a Dental Implant is Right for You
If you’re missing one or more teeth, you might be asking yourself whether a dental implant is right for you.
The next best thing to healthy, natural teeth, implants have become a popular alternative to traditional dentures and bridges. They represent a significant milestone in dentistry and have been widely used to improve the lives of people of all ages.
According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry1, over 35 million people in the U.S. are missing all their upper or lower teeth, or both, and the number of patients having implants is growing fast.
Many middle-aged adults (45-65) in the U.S. have lost at least one tooth through decay, gum disease or injury.
Implants provide a solid foundation for artificial teeth and can be used instead of dentures and bridges or to support a dental plate. They feel and look like your own teeth, and are usually the preferred choice for a single tooth replacement, although they can also be used to replace several teeth.
An implant is a small screw-like post, usually titanium, which is surgically put into the jaw, in the socket of a missing tooth. After the implanted post has bonded with the bone, an abutment is fixed into position to secure the new tooth. A crown is then fixed to the abutment.
Reasons to Choose Dental Implants
An implant is probably the right choice if you’re looking for convenience. Implants become part of your mouth, thereby avoiding the hassle of continually having to remove dentures and put them back in.
Implants work just like natural teeth, so you can eat whatever you like, and looking after implants is the same as with natural teeth. You floss and brush as normal and you don’t have to use fixative creams or soak them overnight. Individual implants can also improve oral hygiene by making it easier to clean between teeth.
Another factor that might sway you in favor of implants is if you have lost a few teeth and want to ensure you keep the remaining ones. If spaces are left after tooth loss, issues like weakening of the jaw bone may occur, and when a tooth isn’t supported by the jaw, the tooth deteriorates.
Some tooth replacement methods, like a tooth-supported bridge, can weaken adjacent teeth. Implants protect your remaining healthy teeth because they require no adjustments to surrounding teeth. Implants also help to stop adjacent teeth shifting.
Implants are a good choice if you want to look and feel natural. Once an implant has bonded to the bone, your artificial tooth will feel entirely normal.
Implants also look like natural teeth, and, because they’re stable and robust, they won’t move about, which lets you smile and eat naturally. Implants also avoid the issue of slurring of speech, which can arise from loose-fitting dentures, and they retain the natural shape of your face.
A Permanent Solution to Tooth Loss
Implants are definitely for you if you’re seeking an everlasting fix. Some tooth replacement systems, like removable dentures and bridges, may need replacing over time, but implants provide a permanent solution to tooth loss because they’re part of your jaw.
With appropriate care, implants should last a lifetime, making them the top tooth replacement for long-term value. Implants have a track record of reliable, long-term success compared with dental plates and bridges.
A further benefit of implants is that they preserve the structural integrity of the jaw. The biting force of natural teeth is far greater than that of conventional dentures, and the weak bite function of dentures can cause bone loss over time through breakdown of bone.
Implant-retained dentures have a bite power as strong as natural teeth. You can chew virtually anything you want to, as opposed to gradually eliminating more and more foods from your diet.
The American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) says that as long as you’re in good general health and your jaw has developed fully, you’re suitable for implants. The organization adds that implants are ideal for people who want to avoid the downsides of removable dentures.
When performed by an experienced implant dentist, an implant will be a stable and strong tooth replacement that looks, feels, fits and functions just like a natural tooth. Other options like bridges or dentures may result in bone deterioration, and hinder everyday activities including eating, smiling and speaking. Dental implants are built to last, making them the best long-term, cost-effective solution.
Although implants may require adjustments from time to time, they can last a lifetime when properly inserted by a dental implant expert – in 2014, the Journal of the American Dental Association2 (JADA) reported that almost 19 percent of implants placed by general dentists failed.
Implant procedures in the right hands are extremely successful, and complications are rare. However, in the event of problems during the procedure, the expertise and experience of an implant surgeon will provide a high level of comfort and safety for patients.
Why You Need an Expert Opinion
Implants are not for everyone. For instance, if you have a chronic health issue such as leukemia or diabetes, which may delay healing after surgery, you may not be a good candidate for an implant procedure. Smoking can also slow the healing process. You also have to commit to a daily oral healthcare routine and visit the dentist regularly for check-ups.
Implant patients also need to have sufficient bone to support the implant or be healthy enough to undergo surgery to build up the bone.
When all’s said and done, the only person who can give you a definitive decision on whether a dental implant is right for you is an experienced implant dentist.
Any type of surgery carries inherent risks, but if you go ahead with an implant procedure, you’ll have the reassurance of knowing that you’re in safe hands with a dental implant specialist with the knowledge and skills to manage potential problems and who is teamed up with a dental lab3 to provide you with the best implant.