Dental care has evolved significantly in recent years, but despite such positive trends in medicine and technology, there are millions of Americans who suffer from decaying or missing teeth. The most common culprit is cavities, followed closely by periodontal disease.
In the past, people with tooth decay had to rely on bridges or dentures to alleviate their bad oral situations. Thankfully, we now have dental implants that are widely available.
Let’s learn the truth about dental implants and see whether they are the right solution for most people.
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a tiny post that is made of one of the following materials: titanium or zirconia. The implant functions as a replacement for the root of a missing tooth.
Because of its increasing affordability and safety, dental implant surgery is becoming increasingly common as a go-to solution for people with missing teeth.
How do Dental Implants Work?
The replacement tooth is attached to the dental implant by use of a connection that is referred to as an abutment.
This connector may either be put on top of the dental implant or incorporated into it. The dental implant procedure is finished with the implantation of a crown, which is a substitute tooth that is made to look exactly like your other teeth.
Dental implants, which are basically artificial teeth that are linked directly to the jawbone, provide a more lifelike tooth replacement option than dentures do.
Dentures rest on the gums rather than the jawbone. You need to be in generally excellent health (other than the fact that you are missing teeth) and have a fully formed and healthy jawbone in order to reap the benefits of dental implants. Strong gums and a healthy jawbone are required to support the implants.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
It is possible for the dental implant to last a lifetime if it is cared for with regular dental hygiene practices—like brushing, flossing, and rinsing after meals. Recipients must also have routine dental examinations and cleanings. At minimum, implants can last 15 years.
Implants in the mouth are meant to be long-term solutions. This is because they make direct contact with the jawbone and undergo a process known as osseointegration, which causes them to become connected with the bone tissue in the surrounding area.
When the process of osseointegration is finished, the substance of the implant and the bone that surrounds it will have merged into one another. As a result, the implant is capable of performing the function of an artificial tooth root, therefore providing a sturdy base for a prosthetic tooth.
Another thing to consider regarding the duration of a dental implant is, where it is being used in the mouth?
Chewing causes more wear and tear on dental implants that are positioned in the posterior region of the mouth. It’s possible that the quantity of usage will cause the implant to fail sooner than it would if it were placed closer to the front of the mouth.
Dental Implants vs Crowns
Compared to a crown, dental implants certainly withstand the test of time. The average lifespan of a crown is just 10 and 15 years, making it the lesser option as far as longevity is concerned.
There are of course other factors that need to be taken into consideration before opting for a dental implant or crown, mainly the age of the recipient as well as their finances. Dental implants are on the higher end of the cost scale so they may be prohibitive for some people.
Dental Bridge vs Implants
Both are known to deliver ‘as good as new’ results, but there are a few notable differences between these two oral products.
First, longevity. Dental bridges last a mere five to seven years before requiring a replacement. Occasionally they can exceed 10 years, but not likely. Implants, as we’ve mentioned before, last a minimum of 15 years and sometimes much longer.
Because implants are drilled into the spot of the former root, they fit identically to a regular tooth. This prevents tooth decay in surrounding teeth. A dental bridge utilizes false teeth that are held in place by a missing tooth, which can cause irritation and problems for the nearby teeth.
Choosing Between a Dental Bridge vs Implants
Here are some of the chief deciding factors between whether to go with a dental bridge or implants.
If you have dental insurance, the likelihood that it will cover a dental bridge is higher than the likelihood that it will cover an implant. If you don’t have dental insurance, you may need to negotiate with your doctor to understand your most effective options.
Amount of missing teeth
If you are missing more than one tooth in a row, your best chance is probably going to be to have a dental bridge rather than getting an implant. The procedure involved when attaching a single implant to the jaw may not be worthwhile since there are multiple lost teeth to account for.
Considering the higher costs of implants, it may not make sense to go that route for multiple missing teeth. Full mouth dental implants do exist, but you should consult your physician prior to making a final decision.
Other Medical Conditions
Since the placement of dental implants requires surgery, they are often not the best choice for those with serious medical diseases that slow down the healing process. This includes patients with leukemia or diabetes, among other medical conditions that could be negatively affected by oral surgery.
Candidates for dental implants who are in excellent general health and have a jawbone that is free of decay and is of sufficient health to sustain the implant are considered to be the best candidates.
Amount of Time
The procedure of receiving a permanent full dental implant may take several months, but the installation of a dental bridge often only requires two visits to the dentist that are spaced out over a couple of weeks.
When you obtain a dental implant, an oral surgeon will drill holes into your jawbone and connect the implant’s root to the bone using titanium screws. As you wait for the bone to recover, they might elect to give you a temporary denture.
After that, you won’t be able to have a crown for anywhere from two months to six months since the bone needs time to mend.
Dental Implants vs Veneers
Deciding whether to go with dental implants or veneers is based on the issue that you are attempting to correct. Dental implants may fill up gaps left by missing teeth, and veneers can improve the appearance of your smile by making it seem better overall.
If you have teeth that are healthy but have aesthetic concerns like stains, chipping, or gaps, veneers are a terrific choice that can give you a stunning smile in a short period of time. This is because veneers are bonded to the front surface of your teeth.
If you have a more significant issue that is compromising your oral health, such as missing teeth, bone loss, or receding gums, it will be best for you to select dental implants as a secure anchor for fake teeth since implants are the most natural-looking option.
The jawbone tends to retreat whenever a person is missing teeth, regardless of the cause. If there are no dental roots present to stimulate the bone, then the bone will continue to deteriorate and shrink.
When you suffer from bone loss, it may have a negative impact not just on your oral health but also on your general wellbeing. It will make you feel older, it will prevent your mouth from functioning and working the way it should, and it will interfere with many of the things you do on a day-to-day basis.
Bone loss is a quiet process. The fact that it’s relatively painless may lead you to believe that it is not occurring to you, but when a person is missing teeth, they will experience a loss of bone in their jaws.
Dental implants are the finest alternative that is available for replacing lost teeth, both for the benefit of your oral health and your general health.
On the flip side, veneers are a sound solution for those who wish to enhance the aesthetic appearance of their teeth while still maintaining their original teeth. Veneers are very thin shells made of porcelain that are bonded to the front surfaces of teeth to improve their appearance and make smiles seem more attractive.
Do Dental Implants Hurt?
After dental implant surgery, it is normal to have some degree of discomfort; however, the dental implant pain shouldn’t continue for more than two weeks. If the pain is ongoing, you should consider making an appointment with your prosthodontist.
A significant number of dental experts provide pain medication to assist in the management of discomfort at the site of the implant. Pain after surgery may be manageable with over-the-counter discomfort medication in certain instances, particularly when the pain is very minor. In most cases, getting a single implant rather than having numerous implants done at the same time would result in less pain.
It is imperative that patients get in touch with a dental practitioner as soon as possible if they continue to experience significant pain beyond the 10-day mark. Pain that lasts for an extended period of time may be an indication that the area around the implant has gotten contaminated. If this turns out to have occurred, a specialist will need to move promptly in order to salvage the implant.
Dental implant healing stages happen quickly, especially if the person only receives one or two dental implants. Recovery takes place in as little as one to two days for most patients.
Pros and Cons of Dental Implants
Deciding whether or not to take part in the dental implant process is a big decision, and potentially a costly one.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of dental implants.
Pros of Dental Implants
There’s a sense of permanency with dental implants. They are truly a permanent tooth replacement rather than simply using a false tooth.
Implants can also help prevent bone loss and damage to nearby teeth. They are easy to look after since they are a part of the gums like a normal tooth root.
Perhaps best of all, you can eat what you want. Dental implants don’t interfere with the chewing process whatsoever.
Cons of Dental Implants
The most obvious disadvantage of dental implant surgery is cost. Implants are on the higher end of oral devices, and they can cost significantly more than a bridge or set of dentures.
They can also be a poor choice for people with bad oral hygiene, especially smokers or those with a chronic health condition like diabetes.
The dental implant process alone can be tiring. Most patients have to schedule a series of appointments that take place over a period of six months.
The procedure itself can lead to infection of the gum or damage to surrounding teeth. Although rare, it can lead to sinus issues in the upper law area.
Dental Implant Options
There are three types of dental implant options. Endosteal is the most common dental implant type, with the second most common being subperiosteal. A lesser used type is called zygomatic.
Endosteals are designed like screws and serve as stand-in posts. They insert into the jaw, which is where the fake teeth are attached.
It requires time after treatment for the wound to come together and fortify itself. The fake teeth may be attached to the post to blend in with the neighboring teeth after it has healed.
This second-most popular implant may appeal to you more if you don’t like the notion of having anything inserted into your jawbone.
Subperiosteal implants don’t get fixed into the jawbone, but instead they sit atop the bone. As the gum heals around the frame, it helps hold the structure in place permanently.
The least popular type are Zygomatic implants which should only be given to people without enough of a jawbone to receive the normal Endosteal implant.
As always, speak with a physician prior to choosing a dental implant option. Determine which is the safest, most effective, and the best cost for your financial situation.