The risk of tooth loss increases as you get older. While it is not inevitable, a study done by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons shows that 69% of adults by the ages of 35-44 will have lost at least one permanent tooth. With several advancements in odontology in the past decades, patients now have different options for replacing missing teeth. One of these options available to our patients at Aesthetic Periodontal & Implant Specialists is dental implants.
What is a Dental Implant?
You may be wondering, what is a dental implant? Dental implants act as replacements for your tooth roots. These implants provide the necessary foundation and support needed by the surrounding area since it acts as an artificial tooth root. Compared to dentures and bridges, which are other tooth replacement alternatives, dental implants provide a long-term solution for missing teeth.
Structurally, the implants are composed of three parts: the implant, abutment, and the crown. The implant functions as the artificial tooth root and is commonly made from titanium. Therefore, this part is permanently attached to your jawbone. In order to connect the implant with the prosthetic tooth or crown, an abutment or post is connected to the implant. This allows for a stable support that would hold the tooth or teeth down. Lastly, the crown is the prosthetic tooth that is visible and is typically made out of porcelain, ceramic, or zirconium.
Why Dental Implants Are Done
The foremost reason as to why dental implants are done is simply because of missing teeth. However, unbeknownst to many people, dental implants may be needed for various reasons. A missing tooth creates a gap that can be detrimental to your oral health. When it comes to jawbones and dental implants, the implants help prevent jawbone deterioration from occurring. This is because of the solid foundation that an implant provides as a root. Without natural teeth or implants to support and strengthen a gap between two teeth, teeth shifting can occur causing problems with your overall facial shape and jawline.
Dental implants are also an excellent alternative to dentures and crowns. Some patients would prefer to have dental implants placed instead of dentures because of the aesthetics of having artificial teeth. Moreover, because dental implants are permanent, they are less likely to get in the way of chewing and speaking, replicating what it is like to have natural teeth.
Teeth are an essential part of your face. Having missing teeth may lead to less self-confidence and self-esteem. Placing dental implants allows many patients to be more confident of their own smiles.
Types of Dental Implants
Placed directly into the jawbone, an endosteal dental implant provides increased stability and a tougher foundation for the implant itself. Endosteal implants are the most common dental implants given to patients. The process involves two surgeries with the first involving the placement of the implant. This is followed by a second surgery which involves the attachment of the abutment or post. Then on, our team attaches a crown that is fitted to mimic your existing set of teeth for a natural look.
Subperiosteal implants, unlike endosteal implants, are not placed directly into the jawbone but instead use a metal frame which is then inserted right above the jawbone under the gum tissue. For patients with weaker bone structure or who have suffered from some bone trauma, subperiosteal implants are more likely to have a higher success rate. Comparatively, this implant type also benefits from a quicker healing process because of the less-invasive nature.
Dental Implants vs. Other Alternatives
Dental implants and other alternative tooth replacement options such as dentures and fixed bridges all have their own pros and cons. Many patients are familiar with the function and look of dentures. Full mouth dentures are a great alternative for individuals who have lost all their teeth. As a substitute for natural teeth, dentures offer you the option to chew more thoroughly albeit not as effective as dental implants.
If you still have the majority of your teeth, you may opt for partial dentures. These dentures are tailor-fitted to fill the gaps in your mouth without having to remove the rest of your teeth. The dentures themselves clasp on your teeth to provide stability when chewing. Though, this can sometimes be uncomfortable because it is less stable compared to full mouth dentures and dental implants.
Compared to partial and full mouth dentures, fixed bridges are a stable solution for missing teeth. It is placed intact by bonding material applied and can only be removed by our professionals. While much closer to dental implants, fixed bridges are harder to maintain. This is because fixed bridges are only meant to close the gap between missing teeth. Over time, bridges will have to be replaced every five to seven years after being placed.
Are Dental Implants Really Better?
Although dental implants require a higher upfront cost, their benefits far outweigh their cons when compared to alternatives such as dentures and bridges. If you are curious as to whether dental implants really are better, the answer is somewhat nuanced. However, when compared to dentures, dental implants are simply better at mimicking the look and feel of real teeth. Alternatively, even though bridges provide a closer feeling to natural teeth, maintenance costs and possible oral health risks should be taken into consideration. Overall, dental implants provide a better solution for missing teeth and are cost-effective over time.
How Long Does the Procedure Take?
The dental implant procedure incorporates four different stages for the success of your treatment. Initially, you will first undergo a consultation with our team of professionals to discuss the ideal treatment plan for you. This is followed by the actual implant placement which is a surgical procedure depending on the type of implant that is recommended to you. After which, you will undergo a healing period post-surgery which may vary but can last up to two to six months. Lastly, our designated professional will place either a crown or implant-supported bridge to restore your smile.
Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Whether you are looking to replace a missing tooth for aesthetic reasons or are tired from the hassle involved from denture maintenance, dental implants may be the solution for you. To learn if you are a viable candidate for our dental implants, contact our team at Aesthetic Periodontal & Implant Specialists by calling us at (210) 614-4700.
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