Dental Implants have been around for over 50 years. They are the safest and most conservative approach to replacing missing teeth. Dental Implants are now considered the treatment of choice for replacing missing teeth. Whether you have one missing tooth or several due to periodontal disease, decay or an accident, with Dental Implants you can restore function and appearance to your smile.
What are Dental Implants?Dental implants are a safe, effective and permanent way to replace one or more missing teeth. The implant is a small, titanium post placed into the jawbone. A custom-made porcelain tooth (or set of teeth) is attached to the implant. The final dental implant restorations will look completely natural and blend with your surrounding teeth.
To replace a single tooth, a titanium Dental Implant is first inserted into the missing space. This implant serves as a replacement for the root of the missing tooth and is designed to seamlessly bond with the surrounding bone. A small post is then inserted into the implant and the replacement tooth is permanently fixed to this post. The result is a new tooth that looks perfect and functions exactly like a natural tooth. What are the benefits of Dental Implants?
Before Dental Implant technology, patients with missing teeth had limited options. The most common solution was called a "Fixed Bridge". With a fixed bridge, healthy surrounding teeth are ground down to allow crowns to be placed.
This solution is not optimal for several reasons including:
- Adjacent, healthy teeth are used as anchors for the new tooth, requiring them to be unnecessarily ground down and crowned.
- A fixed bridge does not replace the root of the tooth; it only replaces the visible crown portion of a tooth. As a result, the jaw bone (where the root of the tooth was previously located) can begin to dissolve; causing pain, issues with surrounding teeth and unfavorable changes in a person’s appearance.
Dental Implants address these issues and provide significant benefits beyond the previous options:
- The surrounding healthy teeth are not impacted by the placement of the dental implant. With a Dental Implant you can brush and floss as you would with natural teeth.
- The titanium screw placed in the jaw acts as a replacement for the tooth root and actually bonds with the existing bone, keeping the natural bone structure of your face and jaw intact.
- Dental implants are extremely durable and with good care can last a lifetime.
- Dental implants look and function like natural teeth.
What if I'm missing multiple teeth?Dental implants are also an excellent choice for patients missing multiple teeth and provide many benefits over the previous options.
Similar to the method used for treating one missing tooth, fixed bridges have often been used to replace several missing teeth as well. As noted above, fixed bridges require the surrounding teeth to be ground down and crowned, thus damaging more healthy teeth. Additionally, they do not address the issue of the missing root and do not prevent bone deterioration and loss the way a Dental Implant can. Plus, most bridges only last 5-7 years, while dental implants can last a lifetime.
Another approach to treating multiple missing teeth is the usage of partial dentures. These are appliances made of metal and plastic that clip to adjacent healthy teeth to fill the gaps of multiple missing teeth. These appliances are considered to be much more cosmetic than truly functional teeth, and they come with significant drawbacks:
- Partial dentures do not stay in the mouth and often do not fit securely.
- Partial dentures can have a significant impact on how well you are able to bite into foods and chew, making it impossible to eat all the foods you enjoyed with your natural teeth.
- Similar to bridges, partial dentures do not address the issue of bone deterioration.
Who can get Dental Implants?Almost anyone who is missing one or more teeth is a candidate for Dental Implants. The ideal implant patient is in good oral and general health and has adequate bone mass in their jaw to support the implant. In most cases, the entire procedure can be completed in just a few visits.
Why is it important to replace a lost Tooth?When a tooth is lost, the bone in that area will eventually recede. This is because the tooth root is no longer there to secure and stabilize the bone. If the bone has no job to do it basically packs up and ships out of there!
Whenever a tooth is lost, the temptation is always there to just leave the gap and not replace that tooth. This is especially the case if it is a back tooth that’s not visible when your smile.
Unfortunately when a tooth is lost the bone in this area will continue to recede and dissolve – this in turn puts enormous pressure on the surrounding teeth, their mobility and their structure.
In time the physical appearance of your face will change. You may notice that people who have lost several teeth and do not wear any dentures may appear to have a sunken in appearance to their mouth and jaw area. This is because their bone structure has receded and they no longer have their teeth there to hold their bone structure in place as they use to.
Problems with missing teeth are not only limited to cosmetic changes. A gap means that the corresponding tooth on the upper or lower jaw now has nothing to bite against – therefore it too will begin to over-erupt and probably become lose over time.
A lost tooth can also affect many other facial structures such as the jaw, muscles, jaw joints, and even the skin. One of the omore common complaints we hear when people have dentures – is that they rub, or they can no longer eat the foods they used to without discomfort. In many instances this changes their diet, eating habits, and even their social relationships. No-body wants to go out to lunch or dinner and have to take out their teeth to eat their meal. Implants eliminate the need for removable devices such as dentures and plates.
- No more unsightly gaps
- No more taking dentures/plates in and out
- No more changes in diet to accomodate ill fitting plates/dentures
- Helps to maintain a healthy bite and bone structure to preserve the life of other teeth