Most of us have lost a tooth or two due to several factors like an accident, tooth decay, aging, or gum disease. But, thanks to technological advancements, you don’t have to deal with the negative effects of missing teeth. Dental implants give patients a chance to happier smiles and healthier lives. Unlike traditional dentures and outdated bridges, which can be uncomfortable, dental implants greatly improve your oral health, plus they last your lifetime. If you’re trying to find out more information about dental implants, this article takes you through everything you need to know about dental implants, including cost, the process itself, and disadvantages.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are metal fixtures that are surgically fastened to your jawbone below the gums. Artificial teeth are then mounted onto the fixture. The metal implant is anchored to your bone through a process known as osseointegration, where the bone fuses to the metal. Due to the metal fixtures integrating with your jawbone, dental implants are stable, and you can safely use them while eating. Dental implants are available in two primary types: endosteal and subperiosteal.
These are the most commonly used dental implants. They can either be titanium (screws) or blades (wide, flat metal) that are surgically inserted into your jawbone where the tooth is missing. Once the fixture is fitted onto your jawbone, it takes around four to six weeks before an abutment (the piece that your new tooth will be fastened to) is placed into the screw or blade. During this waiting period, you can still eat, drink, and talk as you normally do. However, you’ll need to pay special attention to the abutment area by brushing with silica toothpaste to keep bacteria away and reduce inflammation.
Unlike endosteal, subperiosteal implants are placed on top of your jawbone and under your gum tissue. Through the osseointegration process, the implants will fasten to your jawbone over time. Your dentist may recommend this procedure over the endosteal one for several reasons – you may be experiencing bone loss in your jaw, or the shape or health of your jaw may not support the surgical insertion of metal that endosteal implants require.
Why Choose Dental Implants Over Other Procedures?
The Rate of Success is High
Dental implants not only heal faster, but they also have the highest success rates (95 to 98 percent) compared to any other dental procedures. However, since it involves surgery, the success rate varies from one individual to another, based on their dental health. It also depends on the skills and expertise of the person undertaking the procedure.
They Preserve the Health of Your Teeth
Most people opt for a fixed bridge, which is the most common option to replace missing teeth. The procedure requires that your otherwise healthy teeth be altered by filing them down to a proper size to fit into crowns that act as anchors for the bridge. This process can weaken your healthy teeth and leave them vulnerable to tooth decay. With dental implants, your healthy teeth are left intact while giving you a stronger, reliable, and fully functional replacement for missing teeth.
Dental Implants Are Comfortable
If you’ve had other dental procedures, you know how uncomfortable they can get, especially when it comes to eating. Dental implants don’t have this problem, and chewing in them feels like chewing with natural teeth – you will even forget you have dental implants fixed.
They Are Affordable in the Long Run
Most people avoid dental implants because of the initial high costs. The good thing is that implants if done professionally, won't require replacement or upkeep, unlike other options like bridges and dentures. So, while you’ll have to foot a substantial investment upfront, you won't have to worry about maintenance expenses in the future, making them less expensive in the long run.
Dental Implants Improve Facial Posture
When you lose teeth, your jaw bone is reabsorbed, the lips thin and flatten, the chin starts to point out, and the lip line straightens, making your face appear 10 years older. Dental implants help stimulate your jaws, reserving your tooth structure. They prevent bone reabsorption and keeps your face from appearing sunken.
The Dental Implant Process
As previously discussed, dental implants use surgical grade titanium or ceramic screws surgically implanted into the jaw to replace missing teeth. The entire process may take several months to complete since each step requires healing before proceeding to the next level.
- Step 1: Placing the dental implant. This is the actual surgery where your gums will be opened and holes drilled into the bone. The implants are then implanted deep into the bone. The process may vary from one practitioner to another, based on several factors like your oral health.
- Step 2: Healing and bone growth. Once the implants have been placed, they fuse with your jawbone to form a firm root where the artificial teeth will later be fixed. This process might take months.
- Step 3: Placing the abutment. Once the roots are properly fused, the abutments will be placed. The gums will be reopened to allow the placement of abutments to the implants. This step requires around two to three weeks to heal. During the entire process, your dentist or oral surgeon will closely monitor the site of the surgery to make sure that it's healing properly and there are no infections.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
If well taken care of and you go for dental checkups regularly, dental implants can last the rest of your life. This means you may never have to replace them. Your crowns will last anywhere between 10-15 years depending on your oral hygiene regimen.
Dental Implant Average Cost
A single tooth dental implant can cost between $1,500 and $6,000 depending on whether or not you have insurance. The cost may vary depending on certain requirements like bone grafting (if your jawbone is too soft or isn’t thick enough), whether you choose artificial teeth that are removable or fixed, and so on. To maintain healthy oral hygiene, practice thorough dental cleanliness, go for regular checkups, and avoid bad lifestyle habits like smoking, grinding your teeth, and chewing hard items like ice and candy.
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