Modern techniques and materials have revolutionized implant dentistry to make dental implants a convenient and predictable procedure. The traditional options of dentures, partial dentures and fixed dental bridges have also been improved in recent years.
Although these are still available, many people choose dental implants for their many benefits. One of the advantages of implants is their proven longevity.
Understanding Dental Implants
Many people choose dental implants because implants are a solution to:
- Stress on supporting teeth. Replacing a single tooth with a bridge or multiple teeth with a removable partial denture requires support from the remaining natural teeth. This added stress increases the risk of a tooth fracture.
- Dental plaque buildup. Dental prostheses that rely on the support of adjacent teeth create spaces where plaque easily accumulates. You are at increased risk of gingivitis which can progress to periodontal disease and tooth loss.
- Speech difficulties. Even the best-made partial and complete dentures pose phonetic challenges. Because these appliances rest on gums, the action of your lips, cheeks, and tongue can cause the appliance to move while speaking.
- Chewing challenges. Replacing missing teeth helps you support a healthy diet. While solutions such as dentures and partials improve chewing efficiency, they do not reestablish the complete function of natural teeth.
- Need for removal at night. Dentists recommend you remove complete and partial dentures at night so that your gums and supporting bone can rest from the daily pressure they withstand. Additionally, studies show an increased risk of gum inflammation, fungal infection, and pneumonia when wearing dentures during sleep.
- Bone loss. Dental implants solve all of the above problems. The most significant benefit, however, may be helping prevent bone loss. After tooth extraction, you begin losing bone that supports that tooth. Dental implants provide the stimulation needed to retain bone.
Are Dental Implants a Good Investment?
When considering your options to replace missing teeth, you will learn that dental implants cost more than treatments, such as dentures, partial dentures, and bridges. While implants cost more than these procedures, they offer benefits that you may consider worth the added expense and are cost-effective. The benefits include:
Dental implants are made of long-lasting titanium that fuses with the bone. Since the bone beneath dentures, partials, and bridges is gradually lost, these prostheses need more frequent adjustments and remaking than implant-supported options.
Partials and dentures require removal at night to relieve the stress they place on your gums and jawbone. Additionally, these can need adhesives as they become loose over time. Oral hygiene is more time-consuming and difficult if you have a fixed bridge. To completely clean around a bridge, you need devices such as floss threaders.
- Proper nutrition
Dental implants restore your ability to chew difficult-to-chew foods without modifying your diet. This allows you to continue eating a variety of foods to maintain the proper nutrition necessary for optimal health.
One of the primary reasons implants have become the gold standard to replace missing teeth is their superior aesthetics. Implants look and feel like your natural tooth to ensure that you have a confident and bright smile.
Longevity Factors for Dental Implants
With proper care, dental implants can last a lifetime. Several factors can contribute to the success and longevity of your implant, such as:
- Lifestyle. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes the nutrients that boost your immune system can improve osseointegration and your implant’s lifespan. Vitamin D, especially, has been shown recently to be linked to a successful outcome. You can eliminate a leading risk factor by not using any tobacco products. Smoking is known to contribute to peri-implant diseases associated with implant failure.
- Oral hygiene. Preventing plaque buildup is essential to the success of your dental implant. Plaque can cause gum inflammation that can lead to peri-implantitis, which requires surgical treatment and often leads to implant loss. Brushing and meticulous flossing around the implant can keep your gums healthy for a long-lasting implant.
- Poor general health. Managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes and lupus, can help prolong your implant’s life. However, any condition that can create chronic inflammation increases the risk of problems with your implant.
- Oral habits. Biting your nails, chewing on ice, clenching, and grinding your teeth are habits that can damage and shorten the lifespan of a dental implant. If you think you grind your teeth at night, discuss getting a custom-made night guard with your dentist. Another destructive habit is brushing your teeth too hard. This can lead to gum recession that exposes the implant and makes gingival inflammation more likely.
When Implants Might Not Be Recommended
While dental implants offer many benefits and are the preferred treatment choice for most patients, there are a few reasons you might not be an ideal candidate. Your dentist may recommend an alternative, such as a fixed bridge or removable partial if one of these applies to you:
- History of head and neck radiation. One study found that implants can be placed successfully in patients who had previously received radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. However, there are variables such as the method and amount of radiation applied. Another study emphasized patient-related variables, such as tobacco use and bad oral hygiene.
- Osteoporosis treatment. According to the American Medical Association, bisphosphonates may offer little benefit in the treatment of osteoporosis. Yet, they remain a front-line therapy with some adverse risks to jawbone damage. Because of these effects, implants may not be the best treatment to replace missing teeth if you take bisphosphonates.
- Diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can prevent the implant from fusing to the surrounding bone. However, if diabetes is well-controlled, implants are considered safe and predictable.
- Children and teenagers. A dental implant is not an option to replace a missing tooth until a young person’s jaws fully develop.
- Smoking. In addition to the increased risks of several chronic diseases, smoking adversely affects the success rate of dental implants.
- Periodontal disease. Implants fail more often when used to replace teeth extracted due to periodontal disease. Receiving periodontal treatment that closely monitors your gum health can mitigate this risk.
Schedule an Appointment
The oral health professionals at Palmetto Dental Arts take great care to ensure the success of your dental implants. Using advanced technology, such as a Cone Beam Scanner to take 3D images of your jaw, help our doctors prepare to deliver a precise and optimally functioning implant to support your crown, bridge, or denture.
Contact us online or call us for a dental implant consultation to learn more about your options to replace missing teeth.