The Benefits & Importance of Dental Implants

Although having a beautiful smile and the confidence that comes with it are important, there are also important health reasons to have dental implants. Whether replacing one tooth or several, implants are an important solution to restoring and maintaining dental health.

Besides allowing replacement of missing teeth, dental implants help prevent bone loss that occurs when teeth are lost. When no teeth are present the jawbone has no use, which leads to its deterioration. This shrinkage of the jawbone has esthetic consequences for your face (causing an older appearance). With the use of implants, the bone is put to use, preserving it.

An implant looks and acts like a natural tooth. It fits securely even when you chew and speak. The tooth replacement does not allow the other teeth to move and shift, protecting your bite, other teeth, and jaw joint. In addition, A single tooth implant does not involve treatment to your other teeth as compared to a tooth-supported fixed bridge or removable partial denture.

Implants are a good value. They may seem like a more expensive option at first, but they can last a lifetime if you take good care of them.

Why should I consider dental implants?

Implants are the best solution for simulating the look, feel, and function of natural teeth. Dental implants do much more than replace missing teeth. They help maintain and strengthen bone structure, provide the ability to chew healthy food, and give patients the confidence to smile. They also protect existing teeth by helping to preserve bone structure.

What happens when a tooth is lost?

Once a tooth is lost, several things begin to happen that are not immediately noticeable to a patient and which can have a significant negative effect on both health and appearance. Tooth roots help hold teeth in place, but they are also critical in maintaining health in the surrounding gums and supporting bone structures. Bone loss in the jawbone is one significant problem that naturally occurs once a tooth is lost. This bone loss can compromise the integrity of neighboring tooth roots and tooth stability, and it is also a large part of what causes the “sunken” look that is seen in people who have lost several or all of their teeth. It is the reason patients who wear dentures find that over time their dentures are harder and harder to fit and keep in place.

What does dental implant treatment involve?

Implant placement is determined by a number of factors, including the tooth being replaced and the type of implant to be used. Some implants require two or three appointments with treatment lasting several months. In some cases, treatment can be completed in the same day. With these "immediate load implants," the implant and a temporary implant-supported crown or even multiple (four or more) implants and a full arch implant-supported fixed prosthesis are prepared and placed in one visit. You and Dr. Tyler can discuss which type is best for you.

Most implants involve two or three basic steps:

  • Placement of the implant – The dentist surgically places the implant into the jawbone. During the procedure, Dr. Tyler will provide profound local anesthesia to maintain your comfort. Depending on the complexity of the implant placement or your level of anxiety about the procedure, you may be referred to an oral surgeon or periodontist, where you can be provided with options for deeper sedation. There may be some swelling and/or tenderness after the surgery, so pain medication is usually prescribed to ease discomfort. We may recommend a diet of soft foods during the healing process (especially for immediate load implants).
  • The healing process – What makes an implant so strong is that the bone grows around it and holds it in place. This process is called osseointegration, meaning “combines with the bone.” Osseointegration takes time. Some patients may need to wait until the implant is completely integrated, which can take several months, before replacement teeth can be attached to the implant. Other patients can have the implant and replacement tooth placed all in one visit.
  • Replacing your missing tooth or teeth – This step involves restoring your implant(s) with a man-made dental prosthesis. Depending on your need, the restoration may be an implant-supported crown, implant-supported bridge, implant-supported fixed prosthesis, or implant-retained denture.

How can dental implants help prevent bone loss?

Dental implant placement can help generate bone growth in the area around the implant, which not only strengthens the bone and builds support, but can also alleviate the sunken look that can occur with bone loss in the jaw. This process is known as osseointegration and is a significant benefit of implant placement because it can also help prevent future bone loss.

What is the success rate with dental implants?

For a healthy individual with good oral hygiene, dental implants have reported success rates above 90-95 percent. Good oral hygiene is very important to the success of the implant. Although implants can’t decay, you’ll need to make sure the area around the implant is especially clean to prevent gum problems. Dental implant maintenance visits are important to avoid peri-implantitis, an inflammatory process that can damage the soft tissue and bone around the implant.

If you want the best option for replacing a tooth or multiple teeth make sure to ask your prosthodontist about dental implants; they surely have a lot to offer.