If you’ve lost a tooth or are missing several teeth, dental implants give you a relatively permanent way to fix your smile. Implants consist of a prosthetic root that ossifies with your jaw bone along with a cap or crown that is designed to match the rest of your teeth. Implants are not just cosmetic. They are necessary for a number of reasons. Keep reading to learn more.
Why Are Dental Implants Necessary?
Dental implants help you maintain bone density in your jaw, and that affects the overall structure and appearance of your face. When you lose teeth, there are no longer roots in your jaw bone, and in response, your jaw bone starts to deteriorate. To put this into simple terms, the bone doesn’t feel necessary, and it simply starts to disappear.
However, when you get dental implants, your oral surgeon places a prosthetic root into your jaw bone. This simulates the feeling of having a real tooth root in your bone, and in fact, the root actually ossifies permanently to the bone. As a result, your jaw bone doesn’t deteriorate.
In contrast, dentures make your smile look nice, and they can help with chewing and speaking. But they do nothing to protect your jaw bone. In fact, over time, as your jaw bone deteriorates, your dentures will stop fitting correctly.
On top of that, dental implants also help you maintain your overall oral health. If you leave a gap in your mouth, debris can build up in that area and potentially lead to cavities in nearby teeth. Additionally, your other teeth will begin to shift into the gap, and that can lead to crooked teeth, issues with chewing, or teeth rubbing against each other and wearing down their enamel.
Bridges can also be an option when you are missing teeth. But in most cases, dentists have to shave down nearby teeth to install the bridge, and that disturbs those teeth. Dental implants only have a positive impact on the surrounding teeth.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Most dental implants feature a titanium root. Titanium is naturally resistant to rust and corrosion. It is nearly as strong as steel but relatively lightweight, and the risk of allergies is relatively low. Then, an abutment is attached to the root, and the abutment can be made of titanium, gold, or porcelain. Finally, the crown is placed on top of the abutment, and the crown is generally made of porcelain or ceramics fused to a metal alloy.
Alternatively, dental implants can be made of zirconium. These implants have been around since the late 1980s, so they are a newer option than traditional titanium implants, and often, people turn to this material when they have a titanium allergy. Zirconia implants feature a single piece for both the root and the abutment. Then, the crown is placed on top of that, just as it is with a titanium implant.
To place a dental implant into your mouth, the surgeon starts by making a very small opening in your gum tissue. Then, the root of the implant is placed into the bone. This is referred to as an endosteal implant. Endostealsimply refers to the fact that the implant is placed directly into your jaw bone.
With a two-stage dental implant, the dentist stitches your gum tissue closed over the root. Then, you return home and wait for the root to ossify to the bone. Depending on your body’s healing speed and the position of the implant, this process can take anywhere from four to six months. Then, you return to the oral surgeon. They reveal the root, screw on the abutment, and place a crown on top of it.
There are also single stage dental implants. Also called same day implants, these implants have the root and the abutment in a single piece. As a result, the oral surgeon doesn’t close your gum tissue over the root. Instead, the abutment protects this area as the root ossifies. Then, again, the surgeon places a crown on top of the abutment.
How Safe Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are incredibly safe. The American Dental Association approves this procedure, and although many people are just hearing about the benefits of dental implants for the first time, this technology is over 60 years old. The first implant was placed in a volunteer subject in 1965. Over the last six-plus decades, the procedure has become completely safe. There is a 95 to 97% success rate with implants.
Maintaining dental implants is really straight forward. Unlike dentures, dental implants are a permanent solution to missing teeth. This means that you don’t have to take out your implants, you don’t have to soak them, and you don’t have to worry about issues. Instead, you just brush and floss as usual.
Keep in mind, however, that you still need to see your dentist on a regular basis. Your dentist can make sure that the rest of your teeth are as healthy as possible. They can fill cavities and take care of decay so that you minimize the risk of losing additional teeth. At the same time, they can also keep an eye on the health of your gums to ensure that your implants have a healthy place to thrive.
Are Dental Implants Expensive?
Compared to some other options, dental implants can look expensive. However, dental implants are an investment into your long-term oral health. They preserve your smile, but additionally, as explained above, they also help to safeguard the shape of your face and keep in jaw bone from deteriorating.
Beyond that, dental implants generally don’t need to be replaced. The root should last for the rest of your life. You may need to replace the cap if it gets cracked due to a traumatic injury or by biting into something too hard. In contrast, dentures are just a temporary solution and usually need to be replaced every five to 10 years or so.
When you start shopping around for dental implants, keep in mind that this is a serious procedure. Do not simply choose the dentist or oral surgeon who offers the lowest price. Instead, also pay attention to their experience. You deserve an oral surgeon who can give you the highest level of care. Dr. Abtin Shahriari is recognized locally and internationally as an expert in bone grafting, dental implants, and facial reconstruction.
Ready to learn more? Want to find out how dental implants can help your smile while also improving your long-term oral health? Then, contact us today. At Greater Atlanta Oral Facial Surgery, our dedicated oral surgeons can answer your questions and put you on the path to a beautiful, healthy smile.
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