What Are Dental Implants?
Simply put, dental implants are the gold standard of tooth replacement. The prostheses made their first appearance in the 1950s, thanks to Swedish orthopedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånemark. They’ve undergone numerous developmental changes to become what they are today.
Before the existence of a dental implant, dental bridges and dentures were the only other options for tooth replacement. The issue with these options was that they were not only time-consuming, but they also had to be replaced far quicker than an implant.
Dental Implants – The Structure
A dental implant is made of three parts –
- The titanium post is surgically embedded into the jaw bone. The post fuses with the bone via a process called osseointegration and mimics a tooth root.
- The post is topped off with a connector which is responsible for holding the dental unit in place (crown/bridge/denture). The connector is placed over the gum line.
- The third part is the topmost part of the implant. This is the tooth replacement unit being used by the dentist. It could be a dental crown, a bridge, or a denture.
Why Does One Need A Dental Implant?
Despite all the advancements in dentistry, millions of Americans suffer from tooth loss. This is due to a plethora of reasons – gum disease, injury, or infection, etc. Implants are the replacement of choice in cosmetic dentistry.
Implants are a fantastic option for people who –
- Have one or multiple missing teeth
- Have healthy quality and quantity of jaw bone to support the implant
- Practice good oral hygiene
- Have difficulty wearing dentures
- Don’t suffer from debilitating conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, HIV, etc.
- Aren’t smokers
- Can commit to the lengthy process time of implants
- Have a great support system – for moral support during the implant process
Patients have to undergo extensive screening before they can be fitted for an implant. Dentists will perform thorough oral and digital examinations before giving the go-ahead.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Dental Implants?
Dental implants come with their pros and cons. And while the former has more weight than the latter, it is up to you and your dentist to decide what is best for you.
Dental Implants – Pros
- Implants look and feel like your natural chompers. The increased aesthetic value and stable function make them the perfect replacement for missing teeth.
- In addition to the above factors, patients feel much more confident and have an increased sense of self-esteem with implants.
- Because the implant post is placed surgically into the bone, it becomes permanent. The process of osseointegration offers maximum stability to the unit.
- Implants don’t slip inside the mouth like dentures do, so patients don’t feel embarrassed about performing basic functions. Furthermore, they can also eat all their favorite foods.
- To make space for crowns, bridges, partial dentures, etc., healthy teeth have to be cut down. They remain untouched when a patient opts for an implant. This takes away the risk attached with other restorative options like decay, gum disease, and eventual tooth loss.
- When someone experiences tooth loss, the teeth present adjacent to the gap left behind tip into these spaces. This causes malocclusions. Implants maintain the dentition without the need for any corrective appliances.
- Since teeth and their roots provide structural integrity to the face and jaw bone, the loss leads to bone loss and a distorted facial structure. The implant posts mimic a tooth root, thereby preserving the jaw bone and facial structure.
Dental Implants – Cons
- The entire process from start to finish is extremely time-consuming. It can take 6 months or more for the process to complete.
- Patients need to have a healthy quantity and quality of jaw bone to get fitted for an implant.
- People who smoke or have certain medical disorders are exempt from implants since there are higher chances of failure.
- If patients fail to follow proper oral hygiene, the surgical site can get infected, leading to implant failure.
- You might need additional surgeries before the implant placement like bone grafts, lifting of sinuses, etc. These procedures aren’t necessary and are advised by your dentist only if you need them.
- Implants aren’t covered by insurance. If you’re opting for full-mouth dental implants, you’ll be paying a pretty insane bill.
How To Care For Dental Implants
To increase the lifespan of your implants, practicing good basic oral hygiene is necessary. This involves brushing your teeth twice every day, along with flossing once a day.
Smoking and tobacco chewing lead to failure of implants. Patients who smoke are advised to either quit or aren’t given the green light for a dental implant.
Although you can eat whatever foods you like with implants, it is best to avoid anything too hard to prevent the crown from dislodging.
How To Choose The Right Dentist For Dental Implants?
With dental implants, you choose the dentist as you would for any other purpose – research.
Ask people around you who have gotten implants about their experiences. Find out what the qualifications and skill level of the recommended dentist are. Visit their office before taking the final decision.
Alternatively, you can surf the world wide web to look for “dental implants near me”. The dental establishments that show up on the search will have websites where you can find patient testimonials. It is much easier to read up on other people’s interactions and experiences with a certain dental office to shortlist your potential dentists.
You can also ask the following questions to the dentist you’re visiting to get an idea of their expertise –
- Their background and the extent of training they’ve received for dental implant surgery
- How many implant procedures they’ve performed
- The type of implants they use
- Whether all the steps of the implant placement will be done in-house
- You can also ask them to show you before and after pictures of their previous patients
At River Rock Dental, our in-house experts Dr. Christianson and Dr. Backes have over ten years of clinical experience. They provide specialized dental care and that too, at a great price! We also make sure that our patients are completely satisfied with the treatment provided. To consult with our dentists about implants, give us a call at (952) 445-5556 to schedule an appointment.