A dental implant is a titanium post (like a tooth root) that is surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath the gum line that allows your dentist to mount replacement teeth or bridge into that area. An implant doesn’t come loose like a denture can. Dental implants also benefit general oral health because they do not have to be anchored to other teeth, like bridges.
One of the most notable technological advances in dentistry has to be the development of dental implants. Prior to their launch, the only options available to people who had lost a tooth were bridges or dentures. Dental implants offer an attractive and comfortable solution for those who have lost a tooth to decay or injury, providing a permanent replacement option that looks and feels like a real tooth.
Advantages of Dental Implants
Because a dental implant feels and looks like a normal tooth, it can do wonders for a patient’s self-esteem. Many people who were shy about smiling due to a space from a lost tooth feel perfectly comfortable after a dental implant. Beyond the aesthetics, a dental implant also makes it easier to eat and speak, since a titanium post secured directly in the jaw holds the implant in place. Thus, an implant doesn’t come loose like a denture. Dental implants also benefit general oral health since they do not have to be anchored to other teeth, like bridges.
Dental Implant Success Rates
Dental implant success can depend on where the missing teeth are located, but the average success rate is more than 95 percent, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS). Because the implant penetrates the jaw bone and gum, certain people may not be a good fit for the procedure, such as those who smoke or suffer from diabetes. Your dentist will be able to evaluate whether dental implants are right for you.
Dental implants are a popular and permanent way to improve the stability of your mouth. If you have missing teeth, or wear removable dentures, they can offer a way for you to maintain a stable, strong and long-lasting smile.
These alternatives to your natural tooth root are made of titanium, a metal that fuses with your jaw bone. When natural teeth are lost, your natural jaw bone can weaken, diminishing your ability to chew and change the form of you face and smile. If you are struggling to chew your favorite foods, or just plain embarrassed by your mouth’s appearance, implants may be your smile-saver.
How It Works
Dental implants are anchors that are surgically placed in your jaw. Titanium accompanies a few other materials to make up this anchor, and are safe to the body; your own bone will grow and join together to support the implant. After the proper waiting time – usually three to six months – the implant is ready for the permanent tooth replacement or prosthetic to be placed on the anchor.
Single tooth loss is one reason to consider an implant, but even total tooth loss can be successfully restored with implants. As explained by the American Dental Association (ADA), there are three basic steps for implant placement:
- Surgical placement of the implant by a qualified dental professional.
- Healing time for “osseointegration,” allowing the bone to grow around the implant.
- Placing of the artificial tooth or teeth.
In most cases, the total integration of bone is necessary before a permanent restoration can be installed. In rare cases, an implant can be “loaded” with a restoration immediately after surgery. If more healing time is needed, your dentist will fabricate a temporary replacement until the final restoration can be placed.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
Dental implants have been used in the U.S. for decades and have been improved and perfected over the years. Currently, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), 500,000 American adults undergo implant therapy of some form every year. The procedure has proved to have a 98-percent success rate if proper placement procedures and oral hygiene regimens are followed. Are you a candidate for an implant? The answer in most cases is yes, with some caveats.
There are many things to consider before seeking treatment, but the two at the forefront are your medical history and the costs involved. Patients who suffer from chronic illnesses like leukemia and diabetes are not good candidates, as these conditions inhibit the body’s ability to heal. Patients who have been treated with bisphosphonates (usually found in chemotherapy drugs), as well as popular bone-building drugs like Fosamax and Boniva are carefully scrutinized as well. Additionally, people who smoke have diminished mouth health and may need to be counseled in a smoking cessation program prior to an implant.
Your dental history focuses on the health and thickness of the jawbone, and the number of implants a practice would need to restore your smile. Another important factor is your oral hygiene habits. In order for the implant to be a success, proper brushing and flossing is vital for the implant to last a lifetime. Without proper care, the implant can become infected and fail. Your dentist or dental hygienist will instruct you on proper care and the specific dental aides appropriate for use around the implant.