Missing teeth can be embarrassing and painful. An incomplete smile can also lead to serious oral health issues.
A dental implant is a titanium post that replaces lost tooth roots to provide exceptional stability for crowns, bridges, and dentures.
So why are dental implants such a great option?
Longevity, Stability, and Improved Oral Health
Dental Implants Are Built to Last a Lifetime
With proper care, dental implants can last 40 years or longer. While restorations will eventually need to be replaced, your implants can provide lifelong benefits.
Following tooth loss, the jaw will begin to atrophy (shrink). This causes oral health problems in addition to giving your face a sunken, aged look. Implants are the one and only treatment that can stop bone atrophy after tooth loss.
Restored Function and Confidence
Unlike traditional dentures, dental implant-supported dentures will not slip. There’s no repositioning, smacking, or clicking. You can chew rare steak and speak with complete clarity while your dentures stay firmly in place.
If You Are Missing a Tooth, You Are Not Alone
Certain Lifestyle Factors and Health Conditions Can Affect Candidacy
Your doctor will evaluate your candidacy by discussing your medical history, concerns, and goals. You should disclose your complete medical history, including the medications you take, during your initial consultation. For example, having undergone radiation therapy for head or neck cancer in the past can slightly increase the risk of implant failure. Other factors that must be considered include:
Low Bone Density in the Jaw
If you have suffered with missing teeth for a long time, your jaw may be too compromised to support implants. A bone grafting procedure can replace lost tissue and restore your candidacy.
Smoking inhibits your body's ability to heal properly. It can also increase your risk of experiencing implant failure. Smokers who want dental implants should quit several months in advance of surgery and plan to stop the habit for good.
Healthy gums play an essential role in the health and strength of the foundation of your smile. If you have gum disease, you will need periodontal treatment before you can receive implants.
Poorly Controlled Diabetes
Diabetes and other autoimmune disorders can increase the risks of surgery and inhibit healing. Be sure to discuss your health history with your dentist. Patients with controlled diabetes can experience success rates equal to those who do not have diabetes.
A Larger Upfront Investment Can Provide a Wealth of Benefits
Traditional bridges and dentures are the most common means of replacing lost teeth. Their prices also make them an enticing choice, especially when you consider that each dental implant can add more than $2,000 to the cost of treatment.
However, traditional bridges and dentures cannot stop jawbone atrophy. This is why traditional dentures require frequent relining and adjustments. The cost of these adjustments adds up over time. Implant dentures, on the other hand, help your jaw keep its shape and size, and may require significantly fewer adjustments. Meanwhile, most practices offer low-interest and interest-free financing to make implants affordable on most budgets.
Total Treatment Time Spans Several Months
What to Expect during Recovery
In the days following your surgery, minor bleeding, swelling, and discomfort are normal. Your dentist will provide personalized instructions on how to handle these side effects:
- Swelling: Applying ice packs against your cheeks during the first 48 hours can help reduce swelling, discomfort, and bruising. Sleeping with your head elevated can also ease swelling.
- Pain: Your doctor will probably prescribe pain medication. In some cases, your doctor may recommend taking over-the-counter pain relievers in combination with prescription meds.
- Bleeding: Your dentist will provide gauze to stop bleeding in your gums. If you notice excessive bleeding, contact your dentist immediately.
To help fight infection, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics and antiseptic mouthwash. Although you should be able to return to work two to three days after surgery, you should avoid strenuous physical activity until you are cleared by your doctor.
Studies have shown that with proper care and regular visits to your dentist, dental implants can last a lifetime.
Proper oral hygiene is also important, but you should carefully and slowly brush the area around the placement sites to avoid irritating your incisions. This is best done with a soft-bristled toothbrush. During this time, it is important to keep your mouth clean and free from food particles that could become trapped in your gums. To get rid of food particles, rinse your mouth out thoroughly after each meal, taking care to let the water fall out of your mouth rather than forcefully spitting.
Your dentist will prescribe a soft food diet for the first few days. Once you are healed, you will be able to enjoy your favorite foods and a varied diet once again.
Your stitches will be removed one to two weeks after surgery.
Once you receive your crown, bridge, or dentures, you should continue to brush twice and floss once per day. You should also make biannual visits to the dentist a priority. Studies have shown that with proper care and regular checkups, dental implants can last a lifetime.
Restored Form and Function
Risks of Dental Implant Treatment
Dental implants have a consistently high long-term success rate. However, all surgeries involve some degree of risk. Some risks associated with dental implants include:
- Implant failure, in which the implant does not properly fuse to the bone tissue or eventually becomes loose
- Improper or poorly planned placement resulting in implants disturbing nerves or the sinus membranes
The single most effective way a patient can reduce the risk of dental implant complications is choosing a dentist with the right training, experience, and reputation.
Choosing the Right Doctor
By spending just a few minutes online, it's easy to learn how long a dentist has been in practice, how they learned to perform implant procedures, and how other patients feel about the quality of their work.
Meanwhile, a dentist should be willing to spend plenty of time patiently answering your questions and explaining the procedure. Your dentist should also use only high-quality implants and abutments. While more affordable components may save money initially, they may not be as likely to provide long-lasting benefits.
Something to Smile About
Dental implants are a landmark in restorative dentistry that has allowed millions to stop struggling with unstable dentures and other issues. By choosing to replace your lost teeth with implant-supported restorations, you can expect to be able to speak clearly, eat all the foods you love, and smile with pride.
If you have been suffering with an incomplete smile or dentures that you cannot rely on, it's time to learn how dental implants can make your life better. Book a consultation with a dentist today to find out if dental implants are right for you.