If you or someone you know has lost or damaged teeth, normal functions of life can become arduous. Eating can be more like a chore as you may have to shift food around to precise areas of your mouth to avoid pain or food getting lodged in your mouth. Not only can it be a source of continuous pain, but it can impact other important aspects of your life such as appearance and even self-confidence as well. If you’ve been putting off going to the dentist because you think dentures may be your only option, know that advancements in dentistry have come up with alternatives. One of these is dental implants, which are similar in both appearance and function as original teeth.
Dental implants are essentially artificial teeth that replace a damaged or lost tooth. Quality dental implants are not only functional, but they’re nearly impossible to differentiate from original teeth of the same whiteness level. Unlike some other replacement methods such as dentures, a dental implant is permanent and becomes just like the other original teeth in your mouth.
This is both the greatest strength and weakness of dental implants. As they’re a permanent part of your mouth, they act like normal teeth, and you likely won’t notice any difference between the real tooth and the implant. But this also means that they require the same level of oral care and have to be brushed and flossed frequently to stay free of plaque and buildup.
Because dental implants become a permanent part of your mouth, they have to put in so that they won’t fall out on their own. This requires a surgical procedure and is done under sedation so that the patient doesn’t feel any pain. There are two main types of dental implants that are used depending on oral health.
An endosteal implant is a dental implant that is fused directly to the jaw bone. First, a post–usually a kind of screw or blade made from a durable metal such as Titanium–is put into the gum. Once the gum tissue has recovered from putting in the post, the prosthetic tooth or teeth are connected to the post. Depending on how many implants are needed, teeth can be connected to the post individually or in conjunction with a dental bridge. Since this kind of implant is fused to the jawbone, the muscles will work with it just like the original tooth.
While endosteal implants are the ideal style of tooth replacement, there are many factors that can make this an unwise or impossible choice. In these cases, there is the option for subperiosteal implants instead. These dental implants aren’t fused into the jawbone, but are placed above the jawbone but still under the gum. Subperiosteal implants are done primarily for patients who wish to have artificial teeth but have a shallow jawbone height and either don’t want to or can’t have it rebuilt. Because of this, the metal frame of these implants pokes out slightly, and the teeth are still attached to the posts as with endosteal implants. However, they are still very unlikely to be noticeable.
If you like the idea of having great looking teeth but hate the idea of taking them out daily, implants are a good option for you. But there are many other advantages to dental implants as well.
Unlike regular dental bridges, with a dental implant, no work needs to be done to the surrounding teeth. This means that they don’t have to prepped for surgery and won’t have to be sanded down in order to fit the implant. Because of this, dental implants are a fantastic option for a single tooth that has been damaged or knocked out and can be put in with limited intrusion.
Endosteal implants especially feel natural, so much so that many patients don’t notice the difference between the prosthetic tooth and the original. Unlike dentures and bridges, implants won’t shift around or slip in your mouth, including when eating, talking, or doing anything else. They are tightly secured when implanted so have a minimal impact on your daily life and normal activities.
While an ideal option for many people, implants aren’t the best choice for everyone. For some people, they may not be possible due to the conditions required in order for the implant to operate properly. But there are other considerations to keep in mind as well.
One possible downside to dental implants is that because they mimic the function and look of teeth, they have to be cared in the same way as well. Frequent brushing, flossing, and oral care are still needed. For some people, they might actually require more care in order to make sure they work the way they should. Regular visits for cleanings to the dentist as well as inspections will be needed to make sure that everything took the way that it should.
A common reason that many patients choose not to have dental implants is that they have an insurance plan that won’t cover the procedure. Many insurance companies consider implants a form of cosmetic dentistry–closer to teeth whitening or veneers–unless done for medical purposes and often won’t cover cosmetic procedures. And many that do will only pay for a portion of it–sometimes 10%–meaning that for some patients this simply isn’t an option.
Because of this, it is best to use a dentist that can do the entire procedure from start to finish, so that only one oral health care professional has to be seen. This also will allow you to deal with the same person throughout the process who can answer any questions you have and help alleviate any concerns or doubts about getting a dental implant. If you aren’t able to keep your original teeth, an implant can be the next best thing!