Nothing can take the place of a healthy set of teeth, but when disease or an accident ends in tooth loss, it’s good to know you have some options in restoring your smile. A dental implant is a metal post that is surgically placed in the bone beneath your gums. After placement, the implant fuses to the bone of your jaw and acts as an artificial tooth root. Implants can be used to replace a single tooth, several teeth or all the teeth. Because implants fuse to the jaw bone, they offer stable support to artificial teeth. Dentures, bridges or individual teeth mounted to dental implants won’t slip or shift in your mouth, and provide comfort and confidence when eating and speaking.
Placing implants is usually a short surgery. Once restored, you should be able to eat all your favorite foods. Dental implants will also keep you looking younger, helping prevent bone loss that can occur in your jawbone when teeth are lost. Implants do not require the adjacent teeth to be modified and create stimulation to the underlying bone. Dental implants are also a great alternative to dentures. Depending on how many implants are placed, they can help give stability and comfort to existing dentures or eliminate dentures altogether with a fixed bridge.
Can anyone have implants? Candidates need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant, and they must commit to keeping these structures healthy. Certain chronic diseases, like diabetes, osteoporosis or chronic sinus problems, may interfere with proper healing and could prevent the bone from attaching to the implant. Smoking and periodontal disease are also contraindications. When not enough bone is present to place an implant, often times there are options available to build up the bone in the jaw with surgical procedures that stimulate new bone growth.
What are implants made of? The implant itself is made of metal, usually titanium as it has been proven to be very compatible with bone and other tissues. The surfaces of some implants are treated with a substance that helps them adhere to the bone.
As with any medical or dental procedure, implant placement is not always successful. Consulting with your dentist will help determine whether dental implants are an option for you along with reviewing any risk factors that may influence long-term retention of the implant.
Dental implants can provide many long-term benefits and have an extremely high success rate of 95% or higher after 10 years. This has made dental implants the preferable treatment alternative to crowns, bridges, and removable dentures. More and more dental insurance companies are covering some of the cost of implant treatment. An implant with a crown can be similar in cost to a three-unit bridge, but statistically it lasts much longer. No wonder insurance companies are changing their attitudes toward implants!