An Introduction to Dental Implants
An implant consists of a tiny metal post (typically made of titanium) and an artificial tooth that is affixed to the top. The dentist or oral surgeon begins the process by making an incision into the patient’s gum tissue at the same location as the missing tooth. The dentist then implants the post into the jawbone of the patient, where it is left to fuse with the bone tissue – a process that typically takes between 3 and 7 months – creating what is essentially an artificial tooth root. After that process is complete, the dentist attaches a crown to the top of the implant. The end result is a permanent replacement for the missing tooth.
The Many Benefits of Dental Implants
It’s easy to understand why dental implants are so popular considering how many benefits come along with these remarkable restorations, including the following:
- Implants look and function just like natural teeth. These permanent tooth replacements aren’t removable by the patient, which means they’re permanent restorations. Just like the patient’s other natural teeth, an implant includes a tooth that is connected to a root. Although the tooth and the root of the implant are artificial, they don’t look or feel that way to the patient. In fact, having an implant not only looks natural – it feels and functions exactly the same as a natural tooth.
- Implants help to preserve bone tissue. Several bad things happen when people live with missing teeth for a period of time. One of those is that the jawbone begins to deteriorate in the absence of the tooth root. When this happens, it changes the face shape of the patient, creating a hollowed-out, sunken appearance. An implant stimulates the bone tissue to grow, resulting in not only a stronger jawbone, but also a more attractive facial structure for the patient.
- Implants enhance your self-esteem and give you more self-confidence overall. Having an attractive smile obviously makes you feel better about your appearance. But enjoying all the benefits of implants goes far beyond simply looking better. Implants are just like normal teeth, so you can feel totally comfortable speaking, laughing, and eating whatever foods you enjoy. Having one or more dental implants is very much like having brand new, natural teeth!
- Implants don’t limit your diet choices. Unlike some other dental restorations – dentures and bridges, for example – patients with dental implants can feel free to eat whatever foods they’d like. That’s because implants don’t slip and slide inside the mouth. These permanent restorations stay put and function just like natural teeth. And that gives the patient the freedom to eat whatever they choose!
- Implants are easy to care for. Because implants are non-removable, permanent restorations, you can take care of them exactly the same as you would for your natural teeth – simply by brushing and flossing every day. And because implants are non-removable and don’t move around inside the mouth, you won’t have to deal with messy adhesives you would need to hold dentures in place.
- Implants don’t irritate gum tissue or other natural teeth. Some other appliances that are designed to replace missing teeth – such as bridges and partial dentures, for example – have metal clasps that hook onto adjacent natural teeth to hold them in place. This not only creates undue pressure on these teeth; it also irritates gum tissue. Full sets of dentures – even if they’re high quality and well-fitted – can also irritate the gums and be uncomfortable to wear. Implants, on the other hand, feel just like natural teeth.
- Implants are long-lasting. Once that post is implanted into the jawbone and fused to the bone tissue, it’s there to stay. And even the crown that is affixed to the top of the implant is extremely durable and long-lasting. These restorations are intended to last the patient for many, many years. In fact, if implants are cared for properly, they often last for the lifetime of the patient.
- Implants improve your health. We’re not just talking about your oral health, but your overall health as well. When your oral health is good, it lessens your chances for developing gum disease. And gum disease leads to other much more serious health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, just to name a few!
- Implants are relatively affordable. Although it’s true that the initial cost of dental implants seems quite high, the long-term cost is very reasonable. That’s because the entire cost of an implant comes when the restoration is first fitted for the patient, which includes the initial implant surgery, follow-up visits, and fitting of the artificial tooth on top of the implant. After those expenses are paid, the patient has nothing else to pay for except routine visits to the dentist for exams and cleanings. On the other hand, dentures, partials and bridges all require repeated visits to the dentist for adjustments and/or replacements. Complete sets of dentures, for example, usually have to be completely replaced every few years – as opposed to implants, which often last a lifetime.
As many benefits as dental implants provide to the wearer, they may not be the right choice for everyone. And the other tooth-replacement methods mentioned in this article – including dentures, bridges and partials – can work quite well for patients who are not able to be fitted with implants. Whatever you do, don’t choose to simply live without missing teeth, since that can have a negative impact on your oral health and your overall health as well. So what are you waiting for? Schedule a consultation with your Cedar Park, Texas dental provider to find out which tooth replacement option is right for you. And remember to ask for more information about all the benefits of dental implants.