What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implants may be an option for people who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason.
Reasons to Consider Dental Implants as your Tooth Replacement Option
- Stop your teeth from shifting into the empty space – When you lose a tooth, the surrounding teeth will eventually begin moving to fill in space. This can cause a number of dental complications. Unevenly spaced or crowded teeth are harder to keep clean and could cost you a fortune down the road in orthodontic care. Placing a dental implant now will keep your teeth properly spaced and make it easy to keep them clean.
- Conserve your jawbone – If you choose to place a fixed bridge instead of getting a dental implant, your jawbone will eventually begin to deteriorate underneath the missing tooth. This occurs because you don’t receive adequate stimulation to the bone without a tooth root. The same occurs with dentures that are not implant-supported. The longer you wait to get dental implants, the more likely it is that your jawbone may lack the integrity to get implants in the future without a dental bone graft.
- Implant-supported dentures – Many people complain of a wide variety of complications with their dentures. Poor fit, sores in their mouths, sunken lips, and food restrictions. If you wear dentures, you can get a fixed, permanent solution with implant-supported dentures. There are various procedures available and some even support a full arch of prosthetic teeth with as few as four implants.
- Preserve your appearance – When your jawbone begins to deteriorate because of missing teeth, it often causes your face to appear sunken in. This can make you look years older than you are. This is why people with dentures often complain of having thin lips and sunken cheeks. Dental implant posts provide the stimulation your body needs to produce dense, healthy jawbone material and keep your face looking full and youthful.
How Successful Are Dental Implants?
Success rates of dental implants vary, depending on where in the jaw the implants are placed but, in general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 98%. With proper care, implants can last a lifetime.
Can Anyone Get Dental Implants?
In most cases, anyone healthy enough to undergo a routine dental extraction or oral surgery can be considered for a dental implant. Patients should have healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant. They also must be committed to good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Heavy smokers, people suffering from uncontrolled chronic disorders — such as diabetes or heart disease — or patients who have had radiation therapy to the head/neck area need to be evaluated on an individual basis. If you are considering implants, talk to your dentist to see if they are right for you.
How Painful Are Dental Implants?
Most people who have received dental implants say that there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure. Local anesthesia can be used during the procedure, and most patients report that implants involve less pain than a tooth extraction.
After the dental implant, mild soreness can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol or Motrin.
How Do I Care for Dental Implants?
Dental implants require the same care as real teeth, including brushing, flossing, rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash, and regular dental check-ups.