Your smile affects how people see you, and more importantly, how you see yourself. Missing teeth can rob you of more than confidence. They can weaken the jawbone and lead to changes in your bite, affecting your appearance and ability to eat. Dental implants are an excellent option to replace single or several missing teeth in different areas of the mouth. They have distinct advantages over other replacement options, including the fact that they look, act, and feel more like your natural teeth.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant replaces a missing tooth with an artificial root (the implant) and an attached crown. Dental implants are popularly used to replace a single missing tooth. However, full mouth implants, all-in-one implants (also known as all-on-four implants), and same-day implants are common dental implant options. When it comes to all-on-four implants, the Straumann Pro Arch Implant System is considered to be the very best.
Full mouth implants are used when all the teeth, both upper and lower, need replacement. The implants act as attachment points for dentures, helping the dentures to function more like natural teeth. All-in-one implants are sometimes used when all the upper or lower teeth need replacing. They consist of four implants in the jawbone to provide an attachment structure for the full arch of teeth. In both cases, the dental implant structure prevents bone loss and provides a more secure hold on the artificial teeth.
Same-day implants are used in-between phases, acting as a temporary set of teeth while the bone and gums heal. They’re replaced with permanent artificial teeth or dentures once the healing process is complete.
The main parts of a dental implant include:
- The implant (body): Implants are made of titanium or another biocompatible material that will eventually become an integrated part of the jaw. There are two types of implant procedures—an endosteal, in which the implant is placed directly in the jawbone, and a subperiosteal, in which the implant goes under the gum but remains above the jawbone. Endosteal is the most common type of procedure, with subperiosteal being the option used when there’s not enough jawbone for an endosteal implant.
- The abutment: The abutment connects the implant to the crown. It’s attached to the implant 6 to 12 weeks after the implant placement.
- The crown: The crown is the part of the implant you’ll see when you smile. It attaches to the abutment and looks and functions like a natural tooth. There are usually a few weeks of healing time in between the abutment placement and attaching the crown.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants come with distinct advantages over other dental replacement options:
- Dental implants look and function the most like natural teeth because the implant acts as an artificial root. There’s no slipping or sliding, and they don’t affect your speech.
- Dental implant care is similar to normal tooth care, requiring daily brushing and flossing with regular dental checkups.
- Dental implants do not disturb the neighboring teeth, meaning they’re a great option for a single missing tooth or several missing teeth located in different areas of the mouth.
- The implant can last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance.
- They maintain the health of your jawbone and remaining teeth by preventing bone loss.
Who Should Get Dental Implants
Part of your initial consultation may include taking x-rays or scans to assess your bone structure because you need enough jawbone to support a dental implant. However, all is not lost if your jaw is naturally thin or already begun to deteriorate due to a missing tooth. Procedures such as bone augmentation, a sinus lift, or a ridge expansion may be recommended based on your health history. These procedures may add to the time it takes for an implant, but don’t diminish the chances of success.
Beyond bone structure, healthy gums and good overall health make you a great candidate for dental implants. Healing is an important part of the dental implant process. Medical conditions and lifestyle habits that interfere with healing could make you unsuitable for dental implants, such as:
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Cancer treatments
However, talk to a certified professional first. Your individual circumstances may still make dental implants the right choice for you.
A Final Note
Dental implants can last a lifetime and give you the confidence to smile, eat, and live your best life. A consultation with a certified dentist or oral surgeon will give you an idea of how long dental implants would take based on your physical and dental health history. If you live in West Palm Beach, Florida or the surrounding area, Contact Good Samaritan Dental Implant Institute at 561-833-6880 to schedule a consultation.