Even with the advancements in oral care, millions in the U.S. population suffer from tooth loss. In previous years, treatment options for lost teeth were limited to just dentures and bridges. Nowadays, dental implants are an option for many.
Essentially, dental implants are metal posts surgically placed as replacement roots for missing teeth. These metal implants provide a sturdier foundation for the fixed or removable fabricated teeth that are specially made to match and replace a person’s natural teeth.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants have several advantages, including:
Improvement in appearance
Dental implants have the look and feel of natural teeth. And because dental implants are fabricated to fuse with the jawbone, they are fixtures that are not prone to decay.
Improvement of speech
A person wearing dentures may have difficulties in speaking because these (especially ill-fitting ones) are often slipping around the mouth, causing the person to slur or mumble. Dental implants take away this difficulty because implants are fixed in place.
Because dental implants are fixed in place, you no longer need to go through the inconvenience of putting on and removing dentures.
Eat with ease
With dental implants, the roots are bonded to the jawbone and the replacement tooth is secured by an abutment attached to the root. It is, thus, easier to chew, unlike with removable dentures that slide. Dental implants are fixed and permanent like natural teeth, allowing you to enjoy your meals without pain.
The replacement tooth (or teeth) fabricated to fit the dental implants are made to match your natural teeth. This adds more confidence to your smile.
Better oral health
The replacement tooth that goes into the dental implants is placed independently, without disturbing nearby teeth. Surrounding teeth are unaltered, thus there is no risk for tooth decay. This results in better oral health.
Dental implants are highly durable and can last for several years. With proper oral care, dental implants may even last an entire lifetime.
Dental Implant Surgery
Before the actual implantation surgery, it is important that you discuss with your dentist a treatment plan that is most suitable for you. This individualized plan should address your specific conditions and be best developed and executed by licensed professionals.
During the surgical procedure, the titanium root implant is fixed into the bone socket of the lost tooth. The jawbone is expected to heal around the metal root implant, securing it into the jawbone. The healing period may last anywhere between 6 and 12 weeks.
Once the jawbone has healed and the implanted root has bonded securely, a small abutment is attached to the post. This serves to hold the new tooth securely in place. The dentist will then make impressions of your natural teeth to model your bite and the arrangement of your teeth. Your dentist will likewise make sure to match the color of the replacement tooth with that of your natural teeth. Once made, the replacement tooth, referred to as “crown”, is attached to the earlier installed abutment.
Some dental patients opt for attachments on the root implants that will support removable dentures, instead of going with individual crowns.
Most dental implant recipients attest that there is minimal discomfort felt through the procedure. Only local anesthesia is applied during the surgery, and most patients agree that dental implants are actually less painful than a tooth extraction.
Who Needs Dental Implants?
Generally, any individual that’s healthy enough for oral surgery or even routine tooth extraction can be cleared for dental implant surgery. Having healthy gums is vital for dental implants to take, as well as sufficient bone structure. If you decide to get dental implants, you need to commit to adhering to good oral hygiene and periodic dental check-ups. Patients seeking dental implants need to commit to healthy oral care routines and regular dental checks.
The titanium alloys used in root replacements have no side effects for most people. However, if you have sensitivity to metal, your dental practitioner may recommend an alternate solution to replace your missing teeth.
If you are a heavy smoker, have a medical history of chronic disorders such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, or have undergone radiation therapy on areas around the head or neck, you may need to undergo a more thorough evaluation before being cleared for dental implants. Again, it is important to seek a professional medical opinion before going ahead with any procedure that’s surgical in nature.
Dental implants have become a favored dental procedure to replace missing teeth because of their benefits over other treatment options. Titanium roots are surgically implanted to hold the new, dentally-fabricated replacement in the form of a crown or removable dentures (for multiple missing teeth). Before going ahead with the procedure, it is best to discuss your needs and condition with your dentist so you can get an individualized treatment plan most suited for you.