We are living longer than ever, and while brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist have allowed many of us to maintain our natural smiles, sometimes some of our teeth just can’t keep up. If you’ve lost a tooth (or a few teeth) due to injury or disease, dental implants can restore both your smile and your oral health.
A dental implant is a titanium post that is surgically placed into the jawbone which then serves as a tooth root. Titanium (the same material used in many replacement hips and knees) is a metal that has proven biocompatibility and is ideal in pairing with human bone. A replacement tooth is then fixed to this post. The tooth can be either permanently attached or removable. Permanent teeth are more stable and feel more like natural teeth.
Single or Multiple Implants
If you are only missing one tooth, one implant plus one replacement tooth will usually be sufficient. If you are missing several teeth in a row, a few strategically placed implants can support a permanent bridge. Similarly, if you have lost all of your teeth, a full denture can be permanently fixed in your mouth with properly placed implants.
Advantages Over Bridges and Denture
Bridges require the teeth adjacent to the missing one to be reduced and prepared to accept crowns. And because often times these teeth are in pristine condition this is a significant amount of otherwise unnecessary tooth loss. This can compromise the longevity of the teeth. The use of dental implants allows us to leave these adjacent teeth alone, maximizing their life span (ultimately saving time and money) and also maximizing your dental health.
Conventional dentures are not fixed to the bone and therefore are somewhat unstable. In addition there are usually metal clasps visible that can be less then aesthetically ideal. This can make eating or smiling with confidence difficult. Teeth supported by implants not only look more natural, but they feel and act more like normal teeth.
For the most part, your new implant supported teeth can be treated the same as natural teeth. They require the same daily brushing and flossing, and the same amount of regular checkups. Just like your natural teeth, the better you take care of your replacements, the longer they will last.