Over the past two decades, dental implants have become one of the most popular methods to replace missing teeth. And for good reason. The success rates are excellent and patients have a variety of options to choose from.
The closest thing to your natural teeth, implants can be used either for cosmetic purposes or for complete full-mouth restorations.
Dental implants are permanent prosthetic teeth that are both natural-looking and cosmetically appealing. They’re the closest thing to your natural teeth. Implants can be used either for cosmetic purposes or for complete full-mouth restorations. They can last a lifetime, and allow you to enjoy all the benefits of normal teeth, including the ability to chew virtually all types of food without worry.
How dental implants work
When a tooth is lost, the teeth around it may begin to shift, resulting in an unsightly appearance. In the past, bridges were the preferred method of cosmetic restoration, but surrounding teeth had to be damaged in order to support the bridge. A dental implant has the look, feel and function of a natural tooth, and because it’s positioned right in the bone where the earlier tooth had been rooted, other teeth won’t shift out of place. The result is a visually appealing smile you can truly be proud of.
In some cases, all of a patient’s teeth need to be replaced due to decay or other oral health complications. The teeth are vital to communication and digestion, so replacement is no longer a matter of cosmetic preference, but necessity. Options for full mouth restoration are limited to dentures or dental implants. More and more patients are choosing implants over dentures, as they provide a permanent solution that requires less maintenance and also preserves more of the natural maxillofacial bones surrounding the teeth.
Structurally, a dental implant is a titanium-based cylinder that replaces the missing tooth root. After a period of time, other parts are placed on the implant to enable your dentist to eventually place a crown (cap) on the implant. Implants can also be used to support full or partial dentures, dramatically improving denture retention and stability.
Who Qualifies for Dental Implants?
Most patients can have implants, although it varies among individuals. An x-ray or CT-scan is used to determine if you have enough bone to easily place the implant, as well as to verify the size and kind of implant that should be used. Even if there isn’t enough bone, techniques are available which still allow implants to be applied. Dr. Cadigan can evaluate your situation and tell you more.
Benefits of Dental Implants
When compared to fixed bridges and removable dentures supported by other teeth or gum tissue, implants offer a number of advantages:
1. Better esthetics
Since implants are placed in the gum much as a natural tooth is supported, they offer a more realistic and natural look compared to other alternatives.
2. Reducing lost bone mass
When a tooth is lost, the supporting bone structure gradually recedes. Placing an implant in that empty space significantly reduces the speed of bone resorption and provides stability for this valuable tissue.
Patients who have experienced removable full or partial dentures know that keeping their dentures in place is always a challenge. Dental implants offer a great improvement to denture retention for all patients. In some cases the denture can be secured to a group of implants with special screws that stabilize the denture completely.
4. Preserving natural tooth structure
Often the preferred method of replacing a single missing tooth is a bridge. Bridges require extra preparation for the surrounding teeth to ultimately connect 3 or more teeth. This negatively impacts your health by making the task of retaining your teeth more difficult and by often requiring the destruction of existing tooth structure to create room for the new bridge. An implant is mostly an independent unit and does not negatively affect the adjacent teeth.
Implants can cause complications for people using certain osteoporosis drugs, heavy smokers, people with diabetes and those with immune system problems. Dr. Cadigan can explain these issues in more detail.
Implants don’t have the same shock absorbers as natural teeth, so they don’t have the same bite sensitivity as your other teeth. You need to be conscious of what you are eating to avoid problems. To make damage less likely, implants are made slightly shorter than your other teeth. This allows the other teeth to absorb the impact of the biting action before the implant comes into play. If you wear implants, make sure they are regularly maintained to avoid damage and other issues.
If you’re considering an implant, give us a call to arrange an appointment. Dr. Cadigan will sit down with you to explain what’s involved and give you an in-depth understanding of how implants can improve your smile.