They look natural, chew strong and are healthier for your gums and jawbone.
They’re called dental implants. And they may well be the best decision you ever made about your missing teeth.
There are many reasons why people lose their teeth. Disease, accidents, inconsistent health care and even side effects from some long-term medication use.
And beyond their health concerns, most people with missing teeth want just two things — a hearty bite and a confident smile.
Over the past three decades, dental implants have emerged as the most aesthetically pleasing way to replace teeth. And the healthier one too.
Why? Compared to bridges, dental implants last longer, often for an entire lifetime. And unlike dentures, they never have to be removed or fussed over at cleaning time.
Since a dental implant looks and acts much like a regular tooth, your daily (and hopefully, nightly) mouth hygiene regime never has to change.
What’s dental implant surgery like?
The procedure to replace missing teeth with dental implants is a three-step process, combining the efforts of both a dental surgeon and a standard dentist.
First, a surgeon inserts a small titanium structure in the jaw bone. This is the part of the procedure known as an implant.
Over the next three to six months, under a covered wrap, the titanium implant fuses with the jaw bone.
Next, after the healing has concluded and the bone and titanium implant have finished fusing, the dentist can uncover the implant and attach an extension, called a post, that looks much like a screw. The procedure cuts through gum tissue, so several more weeks of healing will be required before the final step in the dental implant process can be conducted.
With this secure surface in place, a dental surgeon can now safely attach a prosthetic tooth to the implant. The dentist will form the artificial tooth, using measurements and imaging, taken earlier from the patient.
So from start to finish, it can take six to nine months to safely complete a dental implant. And the bonus — no more missing teeth!
High Tech Dental Implants — Customized for your mouth
Thanks to computer-aided design, dental implants keep getting better and better. If your dentist is one of the 10% that uses computer-assisted manufacturing to craft crowns or implants, you’re in luck.
With computer-aided technology, a prosthodontist (that’s a dentist with specialized training in implants, computer technology, and reconstructive procedures) can craft an implant root, custom-fitted to the contour of your jaw and bone tissue.
With a more precise fit, patients can feel more assured that their implant will set properly. our missing teeth will be just a memory.
Better for your gums and your jaws
In both the short and long-term, dental implants are healthier for gum lines and jawbones.
Dental implants allow your jawbone to chew and function naturally. Natural chewing stimulates bone renewal, preserving a healthy jawline as well as promoting a consistent alignment of the restored teeth.
Unlike dental bridges, with implants, there is no need to file down the surface of surrounding teeth to serve as supports for a missing tooth.
So with an implant, your surrounding teeth are far less likely to need root filings in the future.
What is Osseointegration? Why does it matter for dental implants?
It’s no coincidence that the metal cylinder of the implant is made of titanium. The hefty metal lasts forever, resists decay and most surprisingly of all — within 3 to 6 months after being surgically implanted, the titanium cylinder implant can naturally fuse with your jawbone.
The medical term for this process is called osseointegration.
But don’t worry. This isn’t an SAT test.
All you need to know is a titanium-based dental implant will last forever and meld with the contours of your jaw.
Goodbye to dentures, hello to dental implants
Implants have an unusually high rate of success—95%—and are crafted to last a lifetime.
What’s more, insurance execs have crunched the numbers and found that when it comes to maintenance costs, dental implants easily outperform either bridges or dentures.
Plus, let’s not forget — dental implants can’t develop cavities.
The Hidden Costs of Tooth Loss
Let’s not forget what drives people to dental implants in the first place — missing teeth.
According to studies, nearly 70% of Americans age 35 to 44 have at least one missing tooth. By the age of 74, it is estimated that at least a quarter of all adults will have lost all of their permanent teeth.
In the past, those missing teeth have been replaced by dentures or bridges, or in worst cases, not treated at all.
While these procedures are cost-effective in the short-term, dental implants come with a bonus for your jawline and your face.The root implant maintains the mechanical integrity of your jawline.
Sound like a mouthful?
It means that after several years, or even decades, the faces of patients with dentures will respond to their missing teeth, in ways ranging from subtle to significant.
But patients with dental implants stand a far greater chance of maintaining their original jaw profile.
How do I know if a dental implant is right for me?
While most adults with missing teeth can benefit from a dental implant, there are a few conditions that apply.
First, a patient’s bone tissue must be fully developed. Generally, it’s a procedure restricted to adults.
Second, your mouth must be in good health. No active gum disease or untreated tooth decay. If an implant is installed while there is active inflammation or disease, an infection can form around the implant, causing it to fail.
Third, you should have good oral hygiene and excellent follow-up with your dentist. For a dental implant to take effectively, regular brushing, flossing and plaque control is a must. As are regular follow-up sessions — so your dentist can ensure your implant is healthily bonding with your jawbone.
You like to chew right? Dental implants give you a natural bite
The appeal of dental implants isn’t just a more natural smile. Dental implants allow you a more natural relationship to chewing.
After all, they are literally embedded in your jaw with a titanium anchor that naturally fuses to your bone.
In contrast, bridges may occasionally slip. Especially since bridges require otherwise healthy adjacent teeth to be shaped or filed down, they may lead to other dental complications.
If a single tooth in a bridge develops a problem, often the entire bridge will need to be redone. Yikes! That’s expensive, and perhaps, unnecessary.
With dental implants, the surrounding teeth remain unaffected by the implant.
Plus, let’s not forget one of the main perks of dental implants. Your daily dental hygiene routine won’t change. You can still brush, swallow and swish as you can with your regular teeth. The same can’t be said for those with dental bridges and dentures, which require their own specific regimen of daily care.
Dental implants — good for your jawbone?
Your bone health may improve or be protected by dental implants.
“The screw in your jawbone will trick the body into thinking you still have teeth,” said Dr. Ira Cheifetz, president of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
Plus, unlike dentures, dental implants won’t interfere with your sense of taste.
And you don’t have to take them out at night. They’re yours. Forever.
What takes place during an initial examination for dental implants?
If you plan on pursuing dental implants, your dentist must conduct an examination not just of your teeth, but of your gum health, jaw structure, and bone tissue.
Extensive imaging will reveal the location of sinuses or nerves, which may lay close to the socket where the implant will go.
By knowing these locations, a dentist can modify their approach to inserting the implant.
Are there any cases where dental implants are NOT recommended?
Occasionally, an examination may reveal a jaw bone too irregular or too thin to accommodate the implant. Simply put, the bone-titanium fusion will not take place.
Also, patients with severe or uncontrolled diabetes are poor candidates for dental implants, due to poor healing of ruptured tissue. The same rule applies to any other health conditions that leave a patient with a depressed or weakened immune system
Smokers, while not specifically excluded from receiving dental implants, are advised to curtail or quit their smoking while a dental implant sets. Smoking impedes the body’s ability to heal. Some studies suggest that smokers who get dental implants have a higher rate of implant loosening.
But aren’t dental implants too expensive?
Despite being commercially available since the late 1970s, few dental insurance carriers cover the procedure. Those that do, often only cover a portion of the procedure.
But with a 95% success rate (most last a lifetime) it’s not hard to understand why over 450,000 dental implants are performed each year.
Just like your house or your education, your teeth, your smile, and your chewing abilities are something that should be with you for a long time. So it’s important to think of dental implants as an investment that begins paying off immediately.
At Dentrix Dental Care, we have several financing options to make sure that dental implants (and the killer smile that comes with them) remain a real option for you or your family members