Dental implants are an option to replace missing teeth and provide a fixed solution to removable dentures. Dental implants are natural-looking replacement teeth that are fixed in the jaw. Implant treatment can correct the most troublesome cases associated with missing teeth and ill-fitting dentures. Many patients believe that dental implants look more esthetically pleasing and makes it easier to enjoy their favorite foods without tenderness.
What Are Dental Implants?
An artificial tooth root made of zirconium or titanium, an implant is surgically placed into the jawbone to support tooth-replacement structures such as crowns, bridges and dentures. While the implant mimics the root of the tooth, the replacement structure looks and feels just like a natural tooth, providing patients with a permanent solution that replicates the fit and feel of natural teeth.
Benefits Of Dental Implants
Dental implants have many benefits over other tooth-replacement methods. From enhanced beauty to preservation of other teeth, the benefits far outweigh any negatives.
Implants are placed within the gums. The crowns that are attached to them emerge in a manner similar to a natural tooth. This offers a more realistic and natural look compared to other alternatives.
Reduction Of Bone Loss
When a tooth is lost, the supporting bone structure gradually recedes over time. Dental implants integrate with the jawbone and stimulate its preservation, allowing the bone to stay healthy and intact while maintaining natural facial contours and appearance.
Preservation Of Adjacent Teeth
Other methods of replacing teeth, like fixed bridges must be anchored to adjacent teeth, and may unnecessarily sacrifice their quality and health. Dental implants are independent and do not rely on the support of other teeth, thus providing the ability to preserve the good teeth.
As the jawbone shrinks, chewing efficiency is reduced, making it difficult to eat certain foods. Dental implants can restore chewing efficiency comparable to that of natural teeth, allowing patients to eat their favorite foods with confidence and without discomfort.
Am I A Good Candidate For Dental Implants?
Whether you can have a dental implant is mainly a question of jawbone mass. If you have been missing a tooth or a few teeth for some time, there is a good chance you have some loss of jawbone mass. That may not leave enough jawbone to adequately support the implant base. This doesn’t mean you cannot have an implant; it means that you will need to have bone grafting to build your jawbone back up first. Bone grafting to do this is not difficult.
Otherwise, as long as the patient doesn’t have another dental issue such as gum disease, most people of all ages are good candidates for implants.
The Dental Implant Procedure
All implant treatment begins with a thorough exam and consultation. Typically, the process can take from 3 to 6 months, but be may take longer if additional additional treatments, such as bone grafting is required. Dental implant restorations usually take place over a few appointments and involve several steps. The procedure and time frame depends on:
- Dental health
- Condition and quality of the jawbone
- Number of teeth involved
The First Step
One or more implants are precisely placed into the jawbone to mirror the location of the root of the missing natural tooth.
The Second Step
After appropriate healing has taken place to allow for the implant to fuse within the bone, impressions of the teeth and bite are taken to custom-fabricate a connector post or abutment, and crown.
The Final Step
At the final appointment, the abutment and crown are attached to the implant, completing the process.
The Damaging Effects of Missing Teeth
Sometimes, a person may opt to not replace a tooth that has been extracted or lost to trauma. That can create various problems.
- Teeth need pressure on each side from adjacent teeth otherwise they tend to move. This is what happens with a missing tooth, as the adjacent teeth slide over to fill the gap. This creates problems with your alignment and bite. It can even lead to temporomandibular joint disorder if the alignment shifts.
- Chewing and biting involve a great deal of energy down into the tooth. This energy is transferred through the tooth down into the jawbone, stimulating the jawbone to continually regenerate new bone mass. This is key to a healthy, strong, jawbone. Without that energy coming down through the tooth, the jawbone in that area begins to deteriorate and resorb. This is the reason people who have lost all of their teeth often appear as if their jawbone is collapsing inwards.
- Missing teeth can be embarrassing visually, and can also create whistling sounds when pronouncing certain words. And missing molars can create problems with chewing, making the person avoid certain foods, which can cause nutritional deficiencies.
Why Use An Implant To Replace Missing Teeth?
At NW Heights Dental, we’re big fans of dental implants. We believe they are far and away the best option for replacing a missing tooth. Here are some reasons why:
- Dental implants behave exactly like a natural tooth, so the patient can eat any foods and chew normally.
- Unlike bridges, where adjacent “abutment teeth” need to be crowned to anchor the bridge holding the false tooth or teeth, implants stand alone.
- Implants keep adjacent teeth from moving.
- Implants are load-bearing teeth, so you don’t have to avoid chewing or biting with them.
- Implants have a 90 to 95% success rate and can last for decades, giving the patient back his or her smile and the ability to eat any foods.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
Dental implants are the longest-lasting dental prosthetic, often lasting the remainder of the patient’s lift. This is because the titanium implant base, once the jawbone grows around it, becomes a part of the patient’s jawbone. As long as the jawbone stays strong, the implant will endure. Even if the porcelain artificial tooth somehow breaks, it is easy to have a new one fabricated and attached to the post on the implant.
The only real risk to an implant is gum disease and jawbone loss. But if your gums and jawbone remain healthy, implants last for decades.
I have had several dental restorations at NW Heights Dental and every one has been flawless. They use the best materials (e.g., zirconium crowns) and are very careful, exacting and up-to-date in their methods. They are caring people too. On one occasion, I was about to lose my dental insurance and they worked me in to their busy schedule to repair a chipped tooth. Doctors Hiebert and Smith discuss possible treatments fully and objectively and express warmth and humor. I can’t imagine a better dental practice. – Fredrick H.
How Do I Care For A Dental Implant?
Another nice thing about implants is that they don’t require any special care. You simply brush twice a day and floss, just as you do with your natural teeth.
Alternatives To A Dental Implant
The only alternative to an implant for tooth replacement is a bridge. A bridge requires crowns on the healthy teeth on each side of the missing tooth or teeth. Artificial teeth replace the missing teeth. The bridge is a single piece and is usually permanently placed.
There are disadvantages to bridges, however. First, you need to be somewhat cautious with what you eat. Overly sticky or very hard foods can cause damage to a bridge. Also, the healthy teeth on each side of the missing tooth or teeth need to be shaved down to prepare them for the crowns. This involves removing healthy tooth material and that means those teeth will also need crowns moving forward.
Dental Implant Results
Patients receive all the benefits of natural teeth with their dental implants. It is important to continue good oral hygiene with the implants to prevent bacteria buildup, which can cause gum disease or bone loss.
Schedule A Consultation
If you are interested in having the dental implant procedure done, contact us at NW Heights Dental.