Of all the ways modern dentistry has to replace missing teeth, dental implants are by far the best. There is no tooth-replacement option that will give you a longer-lasting result. Implants also help preserve tooth-supporting bone that naturally deteriorates when a tooth is lost. Loss of bone is one of the major hidden consequences of losing teeth.

 Dental Implant.

A dental implant most often takes the form of a small, screw-shaped titanium post that replaces the root-part of a missing tooth. The surgical procedure used to place an implant is actually quite minor and routine, requiring only local anesthesia in most cases. After a healing period, the implant is topped with a lifelike crown custom-made to match your existing natural teeth. Implants have a documented success rate of over 95%, which is significantly higher than any other tooth-replacement option.

How Implants Work

During a minor surgical procedure, your dental implant is inserted directly into the jawbone in the space vacated by the missing tooth. It will then be left to heal for a period of months before the final crown is attached. During this healing period, the implant actually fuses to the bone surrounding it.

Tooth Replacement Options Using Dental Implants

Implants can replace missing teeth in a variety of ways. They can be used to:

Dental Implants Replace One Tooth.Replace One Tooth — When you have one tooth missing, a single implant is inserted into the bone to replace the root part of that tooth; a crown then goes on top to simulate an actual tooth. This treatment choice has the highest success rate, making it the best long-term investment for replacing a single missing tooth. Even if the initial cost is slightly higher than other options, it is the most cost-effective solution over time. An implant will never decay or need root canal treatment, and feels just like the tooth that was there.

 

Dental Implants Replace Multiple Teeth.Replace Multiple Teeth — When you have more than one tooth missing, implants provide an ideal replacement mechanism. You don't even need one implant for every missing tooth. Instead, implant teeth can act as supports for fixed bridgework. For example, if you are missing three teeth in a row, we can place two implants, one on either side of the gap, and a crown in between that has no implant underneath. That way, you won't need to use any of your remaining natural teeth as bridge supports, which could weaken them and make them more susceptible to decay.

 

Dental Implants Replace All Teeth.Replace All Teeth Permanently — Implants can support an entire arch of upper or lower replacement teeth that are fixed into the mouth and are never removed. Sometimes the new teeth can be supported by as few as 4 implants. It's comparable to the structure of a table, which only needs 4 legs to hold it up. In cases where jawbone density and volume have deteriorated, 5 or 6 implants might be needed to support a row of 10 to 12 teeth. Dental implant replacement teeth protect your jawbone, won't slip, and should last a lifetime.

 

Dental Implants Support Removable Dentures.Support Removable Dentures — Implants can even make removable dentures more comfortable, effective and healthier to wear. Traditional dentures rest on the gums and put pressure on the underlying bone. This accelerates bone loss so that the jaw shrinks and the dentures slip, particularly on the bottom. But today dentists can attach a removable denture onto implants, transferring that pressure into the bone structure rather than the bone surface. This prevents the dentures from slipping while you eat and speak, and preserves the bone directly beneath them.

 

Implant Care and Maintenance

There are only two ways an implant can lose attachment to the bone and fail once it has successfully fused: poor oral hygiene or excessive biting forces. Poor oral hygiene and/or a lack of regular cleanings can lead to a destructive bacterial infection called peri-implantitis. Flossing and brushing your teeth on a daily basis, along with regular professional cleanings, can prevent this. Excessive biting forces can come from either a habit of clenching or grinding your teeth, or an insufficient number of implants to handle the forces generated by your bite. You should receive the correct number of implants so this does not happen. And if you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, a nightguard will be recommended to protect your implants. After all, implants are a long-term investment in your smile, your health and your well-being, so it's best to protect your investment.

Related Articles

Dental Implants - Dear Doctor Magazine

Dental Implants – Your Best Option For Replacing Teeth Dental implants have many advantages over older methods of tooth replacement like bridges and dentures — from the way they function and feel to the way they look and last. Vigorous research has documented and confirmed that in the right situations, dental implant success rates are over 95%. It is no exaggeration to say that they have revolutionized dentistry. They may even change your life... Read Article

Losing Teeth - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth For those missing even one tooth, an unsightly gap is actually the least significant problem. What's of far greater concern is the bone loss that inevitably follows tooth loss. Dental implants can preserve bone, improve function and enhance psychological well-being. Learn how implants serve both as anchors to support replacement teeth and preserve bone... Read Article

Dental implants are artificial tooth replacements which provide a wide range of tooth replacement solutions, including:

  • Single tooth replacement
  • Anterior replacement
  • Posterior replacement
  • Full upper replacement

Types of Implants

  • The Root Implant—by far, the most popular—is the most effective because it mirrors the size and shape of a patient's natural tooth. This implant is often as strong as the patient's original tooth. The implant or artificial root is placed into the jawbone under local anesthesia, then allowed to heal and integrate with the bone. Once the healing process is completed, and the jawbone is attached to the implant, the patient returns to the dental office where the implant is fitted with the new tooth. This process generally takes anywhere from three to eight months.

  • The Plate Form Implant is ideal in situations where the jawbone is not wide enough to properly support a root implant.

  • The Subperiosteal Implant is used when the jawbone has receded to the point where it can no longer support an implant.

The dental implant is today's state-of-the-art tooth replacement method. It consists of a very small titanium post (the actual implant), which is attached to a lifelike dental crown. The crown is the only part of this tooth-replacement system that is visible in your mouth. The implant itself rests beneath your gum line in the bony socket that used to hold your missing tooth. Two, four or more implants can be used to support multiple crowns, or even an entire arch of upper or lower replacement teeth. Whether you are missing one tooth, several teeth or all your teeth, dental implants are preferred by doctors and patients alike. That's because dental implants are:

1. Most like natural teeth

Your natural teeth have roots that keep them securely anchored to your jawbone. In a similar way, implant teeth form a solid attachment with the bone in your jaw. This is possible because dental implants are made of titanium, a metal that has a unique ability to fuse to living bone. After an implant is inserted during a minor procedure done in the dental office, it will become solidly fused to your bone over a period of several months. Once that happens, your implant-supported replacement tooth (or teeth) will feel completely natural. It will also be visually indistinguishable from your natural teeth. Implant teeth allow you to eat, speak and smile with complete confidence because they will never slip or shift like removable dentures often do.

2. The longest-lasting tooth replacements

Because dental implants actually become part of your jawbone, they provide a permanent solution to tooth loss. Whereas other methods of tooth replacement, including removable dentures and bridgework, may need to be replaced or remade over time, properly cared-for dental implants should last a lifetime. That's what makes this choice of tooth replacement the best long-term value.

3. Able to prevent bone loss

You may not know it, but bone loss inevitably follows tooth loss. Bone is a living tissue that needs constant stimulation to rebuild itself and stay healthy. In the case of your jawbone, that stimulation comes from the teeth. When even one tooth is lost, the bone beneath it begins to resorb, or melt away. This can give your face a prematurely aged appearance and even leave your jaw more vulnerable to fractures if left untreated long enough (View Example). Dental implants halt this process by fusing to the jawbone and stabilizing it. No other tooth replacement method can offer this advantage.

4. Safe for adjacent natural teeth

Dental implants have no effect on the health of adjacent natural teeth; other tooth-replacement systems, however, can weaken adjacent teeth. With bridgework, for example, the natural teeth on either side of a gap left by a missing tooth must provide support for the dental bridge. This can stress those adjacent teeth and leave them more susceptible to decay. Likewise, a partial denture relies on adjacent natural teeth for support and may cause those teeth to loosen over time. Dental implants are stand-alone tooth replacements that don't rely on support from adjacent natural teeth.

5. Easy to care for

Caring for implant teeth is no different than caring for your natural teeth. You must brush them and floss them daily. But you'll never have to apply special creams and adhesives, or soak them in a glass overnight, as you would with dentures. They'll also never need a filling or a root canal, as the natural teeth supporting bridgework might. While implants can never decay, they can be compromised by gum disease. Good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dental office for professional cleanings and exams is the best way to prevent gum disease, and to ensure your dental implants last a lifetime, as they're designed to do.

Related Articles

Dental Implants - Dear Doctor Magazine

Dental Implants – Your Best Option For Replacing Teeth Dental implants have many advantages over older methods of tooth replacement like bridges and dentures — from the way they function and feel to the way they look and last. Vigorous research has documented and confirmed that in the right situations, dental implant success rates are over 95%. It is no exaggeration to say that they have revolutionized dentistry. They may even change your life... Read Article

Losing Teeth - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth For those missing even one tooth, an unsightly gap is actually the least significant problem. What's of far greater concern is the bone loss that inevitably follows tooth loss. Dental implants can preserve bone, improve function and enhance psychological well-being. Learn how implants serve both as anchors to support replacement teeth and preserve bone... Read Article

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are small titanium posts that replace the roots of missing teeth (View Example). They are inserted into your jawbone during a minor surgical procedure that takes place in the dental office. After the implant has been placed in your jawbone, a completely lifelike porcelain tooth crown is attached. In some cases, the implant needs to fuse with the bone for several months before it is permanently crowned; in other cases, you can have new (but temporary) teeth the same day your implants are placed.

How many teeth can be replaced with dental implants?

You can replace a single tooth, multiple teeth or all your teeth with implants (View Examples). You don't even need one implant for every missing tooth. As few as two Implants can support a removable lower denture, while as few as four implants can provide a full, permanent set of top or bottom teeth.

Is dental implant surgery painful?

Most people find dental implant surgery very easy to tolerate. Any post-operative discomfort can usually be managed with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or OTC pain-relievers. Ice can also be helpful.

Are dental implants expensive?

At the outset, implants are more expensive than other tooth-replacement methods such as dentures or bridgework. But they also last many years longer and in fact should never need replacement. So they offer the best, most cost-effective option when viewed as a long-term investment in your health, comfort and well-being.

How do you care for dental implants?

They require exactly the same care as natural teeth: daily brushing and flossing, along with regular dental checkups and professional cleanings. Although implant teeth will never decay, the gum tissues around them can become inflamed or infected in the absence of good oral hygiene. Properly cared-for dental implants should last a lifetime.

Can my body reject a dental implant?

Strictly speaking, implants can't be rejected because they contain no living cells or genetically coded material. The titanium of which they are made is completely biocompatible, and allergies are extremely rare. But an implant can fail to integrate with the jawbone if an infection develops in the absence of good oral hygiene, or if it is subjected to biting forces too soon. However, this is rare; implants regularly achieve success rates in excess of 95%.

Am I a candidate for dental implants?

There's a good chance that you are, but this can only be determined after a complete oral examination that includes x-rays of your jaws. Please schedule a consultation to begin the exciting process of restoring your smile and bite.