Although I’m not a dentist, I’ve been reading a lot of information about dental implants lately and I thought you might like the benefit of what I’ve learned. You may have lost a tooth and may be self-conscious about your appearance – especially if the loss occurs in your “smile zone”. You may be wondering what dental implants are all about and how successful the replacement is, so that’s why I’ve put together this information for you.
What Are Dental Implants?
The world of dentistry has advanced so far that in the year 2013 you no longer have to worry about replacing a lost tooth with removable dentures or bridges. If you’ve ever had one, you know that they can become loose and fall out, causing embarrassment, and they can also be uncomfortable and even cause problems with your other teeth as well.
Now you have the option of replacing that lost tooth with a dental implant. Dental implants were designed to work just like your own permanent teeth. They are more stable and comfortable than removable dentures. They can even safeguard the health of your surrounding teeth while giving you back your smile. They can also improve your speech.
Here’s how dental implants work. An implant consists of the base – or the anchor – of the tooth. It looks like a cylinder or screw that is surgically implanted into the site of your former tooth. The base, or anchor, takes the place of your former tooth “root” which held your real tooth in your jaw. Then, the artificial tooth, or perhaps it’s a crown or a bridge with a few teeth attached, are then attached to that base. These artificial teeth are then able to feel, look and most importantly, perform like your former real teeth.
The Pros of Dental Implants
Like all medical/dental procedures, devices, they have their pros and their cons. Here are some of the best things about dental implants:
1. They don’t need to be removed. No more removing for soaking or cleaning – they can be cleaned – brushed – just like your regular teeth.
2. Stability. Dental implants are more stable than removable dentures.
3. They’re more comfortable than removable dentures. Removable dentures that rely on temporary adhesives to hold them in, may not seat properly, or the adhesive may pull away, making the denture slip, or come out entirely. The adhesive itself can sometimes give off a noticeable odor.
4. They’re safer for your surrounding teeth. Removable bridges have to hook onto the teeth on either side and can put pressure on them. This can eventually cause problems with those teeth as well.
5. They can improve your speech. Actually, implants share this quality with removable denture as replacing a missing tooth with either method can improve the sound of your speech. Missing teeth causes sound to reverberate differently and can be embarrassing.
The Cons of Dental Implants
And, they do have a few drawbacks to them…
1. The process can take up to 9 months. Dental implants are done in a 3-step process starting with the surgical implantation of the anchor and then allowing the surrounding tissues and bone to heal around the implant properly. After that, the upper part of the implant – the post, the part that will hold the tooth – is attached. More healing time is needed for the tissues to surround the post properly. Then, the crown or other tooth structure is created and attached.
2. Cost. Dental implants, necessarily, cost more than removable dentures. Yet, their functionality as real teeth, in both appearance and use, is superior to dentures.
3. Infection, tissue damage. Like all surgical procedures, there is always a risk of infection, but this is generally low and can usually be treated quickly with antibiotics. In addition, some nerves may be damaged during the implantation which may result in numbness of the surrounding tissues. Sometimes, even sinus problems have been cited with dental implants in the upper jaw that might interact with sinus cavities.
3. Not for everyone. Dental implants are most successful in people who have maintained good dental hygiene throughout their life and generally have healthy gums. If you smoke, or are diabetic, or even if you grind your teeth, your gums and jaw bone structure may not be strong enough to work successfully with an implant.
If you’re thinking about getting dental implants, I hope this quick look at the pros and cons of them will spur you into talking at more length with your dentist. I always tell my patients that any procedure that more completely restores function, as well as your confidence, can be well worth your time, cost and effort.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
About Dental Implants http://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/implantsdw.html
Dental Implants http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dental-implant-surgery/MY00084/DSECTION=risks