So, you’re considering your options to replace missing teeth. That’s an important decision! We are big fans of dental implants here at White River Dental. They have so many great benefits, and they are advantageous to patients in a variety of situations. However, the process of placing a dental implant is a surgical procedure, so you might be wondering “Are dental implants worth it?” Glad you asked!
First, let me briefly explain what a dental implant is (check out this blog for a more in-depth explanation). Think of a dental implant as an artificial tooth root holding the replacement tooth in place. The implant is about the size and shape of a screw that is surgically inserted into the gum where it will be connected to the replacement tooth. (It is important to note there that the dental implant is not the replacement tooth, rather the anchor for it.) The replacement tooth or teeth may be a crown, bridge, partial denture, or full denture.
The science behind dental implants was discovered by accident in the 1950s. A Swedish scientist found that when titanium was placed next to bone and left undisturbed, the bone grew right up next to the titanium. This process is called “osseointegration,” and literally means “to fuse with bone.”
Since the 1960s, titanium has remained the industry standard for dental implants. Once a dental implant becomes fused to the bone, it is as nearly secure as a natural tooth. In fact, it is virtually impossible to remove a dental implant without cutting away the bone itself.
Today, dental implants are one of the most popular and effective methods of replacing missing teeth. In fact, titanium implants have become one of the most successful medical devices in modern history, with a long-term medical success rate of 94-97%.
When properly cared for, a dental implant can last a lifetime. Because it will fuse with the jawbone, it serves as a stable, functional root and should not decay or corrode. In fact, some of the earliest dental implants placed over 40 years ago are still functioning properly in the mouths of these patients.
Although it is possible for a dental implant to fail, this is most often due to factors that would affect a natural tooth as well. For example, gum disease, trauma to the jaw or tooth, and a poorly aligned bite could all affect the longevity of both a natural tooth and a dental implant.
Because dental implants are implanted into the gum, they do not require any special care or maintenance after the healing process. To care for them, you should continue to maintain proper oral health practices: flossing, brushing, regular dental cleanings.
If not exercised by the tooth, the underlying bone can decay over time (think “use it or lose it”). This is most often seen in patients who have traditional dentures that rest directly on the gums. This can cause a change in bite and the shape of the face, as well as problems with the fit of the dentures. Dental implants, on the other hand, are surgically implanted into the gums where they fuse with bone and continue to exercise the bone like a natural tooth. Through this process, they aid in the prevention of bone loss.
We’ll let you be the judge of that, but you know how much we like them! Dental implants can be beneficial in a variety of situations, but they aren’t the right choice for everyone. People who smoke or have medical conditions that could affect healing from the implant surgery should discuss this with their dentist first.
So whether you need to replace one tooth, or need a full- mouth reconstruction, we can help you find the method of replacing missing teeth to meet your wants, needs, and budget. Connect with us on Facebook, submit the form below, or give us a call today.