Dental Implants

If you’ve lost a single tooth, several teeth or all your teeth, dental implants provide a hi-tech solution with many benefits compared with other tooth replacement methods.

Implants represent a major milestone in dentistry and are now widely used to improve the lives of people of all ages with missing teeth.

The popularity of dental implants lies in their practical and cosmetic advantages over other ways of dealing with tooth loss. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) tells us the number of individuals choosing dental implant treatment is increasing by half a million a year.

If you’re considering joining their ranks, this post will explain the different ways that dental implants are used, the benefits of dental implants, how much dental implants cost, and, most important, whether dental implant treatment is right for you.

Types of Dental Implants

Dental implants can last a lifetime and are used in several different ways to replace missing teeth.

Implants can support a dental crown to take the place of a single tooth. In this case, a small screw – typically titanium – is surgically inserted into the jaw and a connector is attached to hold the crown.

Implants also provide a secure base for fixed dentures and bridges. Implant-supported dentures can be used when all the teeth are missing. Implant-retained bridges provide a solution where a few teeth or an entire row of teeth are missing.

Implants can also support removable dentures, avoiding the need for special adhesives to hold the dentures in place.

A further use of dental implants is in orthodontic treatment. Temporary anchorage devices (TADs) provide an anchor point for braces and are easy to remove after treatment.

Mini-Implants and Micro-Implants

Dental implants also come in the form of mini-implants and micro-implants.

Mini-implants – about half the size of standard implants – are used when an implant needs to be placed in a tight area. They also provide a solution in cases where a significant amount of jaw bone has been lost, which would preclude a regular implant unless a bone graft was performed.

Micro-implants, as the name suggests, are even smaller than mini-implants. Micro implants are used to hold a temporary bridge in place or when the space between teeth is very limited.

Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental implants look, feel and work like real teeth, or even better, allowing you to eat, speak and smile with confidence. Unlike other tooth replacement systems, implants are designed to last several decades with proper care.

Dental implants have the highest success rate of any type of surgical implant – 98 per cent, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

Implants dramatically increase the lifespan of tooth replacements by providing a solid, permanent foundation for artificial teeth. Even if a crown breaks or chips, the underlying implant will stay secure and strong, making dental repair work easier.

Implants are unique in dentistry in creating an artificial tooth root as the implant fuses with bone in the jaw. This promotes jaw bone growth – crucial to preserve facial structure and appearance.

Without the stimulus of a tooth root, jaw bone begins to deteriorate in the same way that muscle weakens without exercise. This is why traditional dentures and bridges can result in jaw bone loss.

Implants Vs Dentures

Besides loss of jaw bone, another issue with conventional dentures is that they’re attached directly to the gums. This exerts pressure on the jaw that over time can weaken oral structure, change the shape of your face, and possibly shrink the jaw.

In providing a firm base for dentures, implants avoid this pressure, and you won’t have the embarrassing possibility of your dentures slipping about. With implant-supported fixed dentures, neither will you have the hassle of constantly having to remove your dentures and put them back in.

Implants Vs Bridges

Traditional bridges use adjacent teeth for support, which can damage these teeth. When implants are used to anchor a dental bridge, they avoid this problem because they don’t need any support from surrounding teeth.

Dental Implant Cost

Advances in dental implant technology have made implants affordable to a wider range of individuals with missing teeth.

The cost of dental implant treatment varies considerably, depending on the complexity of the case, and considerations such as:

    • Type and make of implant.
    • Material used for the crown, denture or bridge.

Other treatments incurring extra cost are sometimes needed before you can get dental implants – such as:

    • Tooth extraction.
    • Bone graft to ensure implant stability.
    • Sinus lift to add bone between the jaw and the sinuses either side of the nose.

When considering dental implant costs, keep in mind that cheaper tooth replacement systems like bridges or removable dentures will probably need replacing with time. Implants, on the other hand, provide a permanent solution to tooth loss because they’re part of your jaw.

Are Dental Implants Right for You?

The multiple advantages of dental implants have made them the treatment of choice for many people who’ve lost teeth – implants are the next best thing to healthy natural teeth,

If you’re basically healthy with a fully-developed jaw, dental implants can give you a permanent, fully functional solution to tooth loss with the key benefit of preserving facial structure.

Bear in mind, though, you’ll need to commit to a good standard of oral hygiene to look after your implanted teeth and surrounding gums. Regular brushing and flossing are imperative, and so are regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings. Maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding smoking will also help to ensure the ongoing functionality of your implants.

To assess your suitability for dental implants, your dentist will evaluate the condition of your mouth and jaw with the help of digital scans or X-rays. They’ll also look at your medical history. Implants may not be right for you if you have a severe medical problem – your overall health affects whether an implant can fuse to bone and how well your mouth will heal.

Contact Jeff Kindseth DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) for help in making an informed decision on whether dental implants are right for you.