Dental implants are small screws or posts surgically placed in the jaw to replace missing teeth. Your dentist may place an implant to replace a single tooth or to help support a dental bridge or denture.
Although advancements in implant techniques make them extraordinarily successful—success rates often more than 95%—some patients might wonder if dental implants are safe.
The Pros and Cons of Dental Implants
Dentists increasingly recommend dental implants to replace missing teeth because of their positive impact on oral health. Their advantages and high success rate have also led to the rapid rise in their popularity with patients.
Some of the pros of dental implants include the following:
- A natural look and feel. Because dental implants replace the root of a tooth, your dentist can replicate the contours of a natural tooth. Additionally, the implant’s fusion with the jaw bone makes it the superior choice in reproducing the natural feel of replacing missing teeth.
- Improved chewing efficiency. Patients report an enhanced ability to thoroughly chew food with prostheses supported by implants.
- Easy to maintain. Whether you replace one or multiple teeth, the maintenance of your replacement teeth is easier than other options.
- Preserve bone in your jaw. Dental implants are the only replacement option that mimics the roots of a tooth's ability to stimulate and maintain the health of surrounding jaw bone. This prevents further bone loss after a tooth is extracted.
- Prevent changes in the shape of your face. Other tooth replacement choices help support facial muscles to prevent wrinkling. However, dental implants come the closest to providing the same support as natural teeth.
- Minimizes treatment of other teeth. Traditional fixed dental bridges require the removal of natural tooth structure to support the prosthesis. Implants support a crown or bridge while preserving your natural teeth.
- Durability. Crowns or prostheses that are supported by implants (bridges and dentures) may need replacing after many years. However, since dental implants fuse with bone, they are designed to last a lifetime.
Depending on your needs, implants may provide even more benefits. For example, when comparing a traditional complete denture with one supported by implants, implants prevent slippage of the denture when eating and speaking. While there are many advantages to implants, the downsides are few.
The cons to choosing dental implants:
- You need adequate bone to support implants. With advances in imaging and surgical procedures, many patients who have been told in the past that there is not enough bone or the sinuses are too large, now have alternatives.
- A surgical procedure is required to place the implant in your jaw. This minor surgery can be performed comfortably with local dental anesthetics and sedation.
- Implants have a higher initial cost than other options. However, this disadvantage is often mitigated by implants’ durability. For example, you will likely need to replace a traditional complete denture more frequently than an implant-supported denture.
What Are Dental Implants Made Of?
The discovery in the 1950s that titanium fuses well with bone made dental implants a possibility. While titanium remains the most popular material, implants can also be made out of other metals or a ceramic material known as zirconia. Titanium and zirconia both have qualities that make them suitable for implants. These qualities include:
- Capable of osseointegration
Can Someone Be Allergic to Dental Implants?
It is possible to be allergic to anything, even water, such as the extremely rare condition known as aquagenic urticaria, in which skin is allergic to water. It is also extremely rare, but possible, to have an allergy to titanium. Therefore, your dentist will only use implants made from the highest-grade materials approved by the FDA. If you are allergic to any metal, you should inform your dentist before dental treatment. Signs that you may be allergic to an implant include:
- Loosening of the implant.
- Rash or hives.
- Itching of skin or gums.
- Redness or swelling in your face.
- Sores or swelling in your palate.
- Chronically inflamed gums.
- Muscle and joint soreness.
What Is The Best Age For Dental Implants?
While dental implants are generally safe for patients of all ages, they are not recommended for young patients. The jaw bone should be fully developed with no further growth spurts expected. Placing implants too early could hinder the completion of jaw development and cause complications, such as:
- Bone loss around the implant.
- Gaps between teeth.
- Problems with how teeth fit together.
- Changes in the shape and appearance of the face and jaws.
- Movement, embedment, or displacement as the jaw continues growing.
Every young person is different and deciding the best age for implants should be made in consultation with your dentist. Most dentists recommend waiting until the late teens or early twenties.
There is no age limit for getting dental implants. However, a few age-related factors may influence the best treatment to replace missing teeth in an older adult. These factors include:
- Underlying serious medical conditions.
- Taking certain medications.
- Poor bone and gum health.
Who Should Avoid Dental Implants?
There are a few instances when dental implants absolutely cannot be placed. However, even though implants are safe, effective, and highly successful, some patients may want to avoid implants due to a higher risk of implant failure. Factors that increase the risk of implant failure include:
- Tobacco addiction. Smoking increases the risk of implant failure. However, if the patient agrees to not smoke for some time before and after implant surgery, dentists will consider them. If this is not possible due to tobacco addiction, your dentist may not recommend implants.
- Radiation to the head and neck. Radiation therapy for head and neck conditions has been shown to affect the bone and lead to failed implants. Recent findings, however, indicate that implants are not affected in some instances. You should consult with your dentist and medical health care provider.
- Bisphosphonate treatment for osteoporosis. You might be at more risk of bone infections if these medications were administered intravenously. Consultation with all of your healthcare providers may provide ways to mitigate this elevated risk.
Few medical procedures enjoy the success rate, safety, and patient satisfaction results of dental implants. If you need to replace one or more missing teeth, dental implants can provide many substantial benefits for you to consider.
Schedule an Appointment
Palmetto Dental Associates can help you regain your confidence and smile with dental implants. Replace your natural teeth with a natural feeling and aesthetically-pleasing dental restoration, custom-made to help you look your best. Contact us online or call us to learn more about replacing one or several teeth with dental implants.