Although preserving teeth is always the first option, sometimes you have no choice. Tooth loss results from many causes — accidents, gum disease, failed root canals or decay is common. This is where dental implants could be right for you.
In the past, dentures and fixed bridgework were the standard options to help fill in the gaps, but dental implants have become a popular alternative in recent years, partly because of their more natural look. But replacing missing teeth is more than cosmetic.
Once a tooth is lost, the alveolar bone in the jaw that supports the tooth begins to disintegrate, which can affect the structure of the face, including the jaw and its joints and muscles if many teeth are missing. Remaining teeth are negatively affected, causing shifting and issues with bite. This can result in difficulty chewing and poor nutrition, which is why it’s best to replace missing teeth as soon as possible.
Pros of Dental Implants
A dental implant is a screw or framework made of titanium and other materials that supports a replacement tooth. Implantation is typically performed in several steps.
First, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon anchors the implant into the jawbone where the new tooth will be placed. Three to six months later, after the screw has fully fused with the bone, a reconstructive dentist attaches a replacement tooth to a small metal post protruding from the implant.
Unlike bridges, implants don’t rely on neighboring teeth for support, which can help protect remaining teeth from damage. And, unlike dentures, bone loss is usually avoided since dental implants actually replace the tooth and its root. Implants look and function like real teeth, with no telltale “clicking” noises or speaking and chewing difficulties associated with dentures.
You’ll care for your implants in the same way you do for real teeth—with diligent oral hygiene and regular dentist visits. Moreover, dental implants are long-term replacements that can last a lifetime, while bridges and dentures may need replacing every seven to 10 years.
Bottom line, discuss it with your SEDA dentist to determine what’s the best decision for you.