What ARE Dental Implants ?
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots used to support a restoration for a missing tooth or teeth, helping to stop or prevent jaw bone loss. The implantation procedure is categorized as a form of prosthetic (artificial replacement) dentistry, but also is considered a form of cosmetic dentistry.
People who have lost teeth might feel too self-conscious to smile or talk. Additionally, biting irregularities caused by tooth loss can have a negative effect on eating habits, leading to secondary health problems like malnutrition.
By replacing missing tooth roots, dental implants provide people with the strength and stability required to eat all the foods they love, without struggling to chew. Additionally, they help to stimulate and maintain jaw bone, preventing bone loss and helping to support facial features.
Why would you need a dental implant?
Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or all of the teeth. The goal of teeth replacement in dentistry is to restore function as well as esthetics.
When it comes to tooth replacement, generally, there are three options:
- Removable dental appliance (complete denture or partial denture),
- A fixed dental bridge (cemented), and
- Dental implant.
Dentures are the more affordable option for replacement teeth but are the least desirable because of the inconvenience of a removable appliance in the mouth. Furthermore, dentures can affect one’s taste and sensory experience with food.
Dental bridgework was the more common restorative option prior to the relatively recent shift to dental implant treatment. The main disadvantage to bridgework is the dependence on existing natural teeth for support. Implants are supported by bone only and do not affect surrounding natural teeth. Deciding on which option to choose depends on many factors. Specifically for dental implants, these factors include
- Location of missing teeth or teeth,
- Quantity and quality of the jawbone where the dental implant is to be placed,
- The health of the patient,
- Cost, and
- Patient preference
A dental surgeon examines the area to be considered for the dental implant and makes a clinical assessment of whether the patient is a good candidate for a dental implant.
Advantages of Dental Implants
Benefits of Dental Implant Systems:
- Restores the ability to chew
- Restores cosmetic appearance
- Helps keep the jawbone from shrinking due to bone loss
- Preserves the health of the surrounding bone and gums
- Helps keep adjacent (nearby) teeth stable
- Improves quality of life
After the dental implant procedure
- Carefully follow the oral hygiene instructions given to you by your dental provider. Regularly cleaning the implant and surrounding teeth is very important for long-term success of the implant.
- Schedule regular visits with your dental provider.
- If your implant feels loose or painful, tell your dental provider right away.
Recommendations for Patients
Before choosing dental implants, talk to your dental provider about the potential benefits and risks, and whether you are a candidate for the procedure.
Things to consider:
- Your overall health is an important factor in determining whether you are a good candidate for dental implants, how long it will take to heal, and how long the implant may stay in place.
- Ask your dental provider what brand and model of dental implant system is being used and keep this information for your records.
- Smoking may affect the healing process and decrease the long-term success of the implant.
- The healing process for the implant body may take several months or longer, during which time you typically have a temporary abutment in place of the tooth.