Are you considering dental implants as a replacement option for a missing tooth? Here, our St. Thomas dentists explain exactly what they are, and the advantages and disadvantages of this common procedure.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants permanently replace missing teeth. Held in place with a tiny titanium rod implanted into the patient’s jaw bone, the implant serves as the root of the artificial tooth.
Titanium is used since this kind of metal is capable of bonding with bone. Implants made from titanium are quite stable and secure tooth replacements. We can then cap the dental implant with a crown that looks like a natural tooth.
Together, the implant and the cap look and function just like your natural tooth.
What are the advantages of having dental implants?
Dental implants offer a whole host of benefits to patients, including:
Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or all teeth in the upper or lower jaw. We can combine implants with other treatment options such as a bridge or denture.
Your specific case and requirements, in addition to the density of your jaw bone, will determine the number of actual implants you need/can get. Dental implants are a popular option for many patients as they have many potential configurations.
Provided you properly care for your dental implant, it can last a lifetime. A proper at-home oral care routine is a must, as are regular visits to your dental office for cleanings and exams.
Other factors including nutrition, genetics or development of dental diseases can also impact the longevity of your dental implant.
Natural Look and Feel
As mentioned above, your dental implant, paired with a bridge or crown, will look and function just like your natural tooth.
No one should be able to tell that you have artificial teeth, and you can eat, speak and function as you did before while enjoying quality of life. Since there are no nerves in a dental implant, you will not feel sensations.
Instead, any feeling that you may experience related to your implant and the restoration attached to it will come from the soft tissues surrounding the implant. After this implant has healed and you have gotten used to it, you may notice a small difference between your implant and a natural tooth.
Easy to Care For
Similar to bridges, crowns or other restorations, you can care for your dental implants jus like your natural teeth. They’ll need thorough brushing and flossing, and your dentist will need to check them during your regular exams.
What are potential disadvantages of dental implants?
Depending on the nature of your case, dental implants may not be a suitable treatment option for you. Here are some aspects of implants that you may want to consider:
While dental implants may look and feel somewhat more natural than dental bridges, the dental implant process is a lengthier, and more invasive.
Depending on your treatment plan and your specific case, the entire dental implant procedure can take anywhere from 2 to 9 months to complete.
Depending on your insurance coverage and your specific dental issue, the cost of dental implants can vary. While some insurance companies pay part of the cost, others may cover the entire cost of your implants and still others may not pay for any part of it.
Check with your insurance provider to learn whether your insurance plan will cover your treatment.
In addition to the items above, you must have enough density in your jaw bone for a dental implant treatment to be a success. If you don’t, you may still be a candidate for the procedure but would require a bone graft to transplant bone to your jaw to support the implant. This would make the process longer and more invasive.
How do I know whether dental implants or other options are right for me?
While dental implants and restorations come with their benefits, the choice for your smile will depend on your oral health needs, your budget and other factors.
Ultimately, you’ll need to discuss your case with your dentist to find out which tooth replacement option would work best for you.