The New Way to Replace Teeth: Dental Implants
Though they have gained popularity in recent years, dental implants have been around longer than you might realize. Back in 1952, an orthopedic surgeon tried fusing a titanium cylinder with the femur bone of a rabbit as part of a study on bone healing and regeneration. He believed that this type of fusion could be successful in other medical fields.
And he was right. In 1965, the first dental implant was placed in a human volunteer, and it was a success. Since then, dental implants have been an excellent option for patients wishing to replace their missing teeth and regain their smile. In fact, it is estimated that over 3 million people in the United States now have dental implants, and that number is growing exponentially each year.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are an incredibly effective way to restore your oral health and help you regain a natural-looking smile. During dental implant treatment, posts are implanted into your jaw and serve as replacements for the roots of your missing teeth. As you heal, those posts integrate with your jaw through a process called osseointegration. An abutment is then secured to the implant post and a natural-looking crown is placed on top of it, restoring function and offering you a beautiful smile.
Unfortunately, tooth loss has a negative effect on your soft tissues and the muscle that surrounds your oral cavity. Though we take talking and chewing for granted, these functions require the use of our facial muscles. When you have missing teeth, those facial and jaw muscles can atrophy, ultimately changing the shape and appearance of your face.
Thankfully, dental implants can help restore your ability to eat and speak, and can preserve your facial shape.
How much do dental implants cost?
The cost of dental implants can vary based on your specific needs and your oral health. And, while it is true that dental implants have a higher up-front cost than other options to restore missing teeth, the cost of maintenance for other options can be higher. For example, dentures and dental bridges, the two most popular alternatives for missing teeth, usually have to be repaired or replaced every five to 10 years. This regular maintenance can easily add up, both financially and from a time perspective.
Dental implants, however, can last a lifetime when properly cared for. They will also help prevent your jawbone from deteriorating, something that dentures and bridges can’t do. For this reason, we encourage patients to consider all of the benefits of dental implants before making a final decision.
Also, it is important for patients to know that some dental insurance plans will cover a portion of the costs for your dental implants. While basic dental insurance may not provide any coverage, if you have cosmetic dental coverage, you may be in luck.
Be sure to check your options and find out if your dentist offers special financing to help you offset the cost. Flexible financing options for dental implants are often available, including through our Omaha office.
Who is a candidate for dental implants?
If you are in good overall health and practice good oral hygiene, you are most likely a candidate for dental implants. Your dentist will need to ascertain if you have adequate jaw bone density to support the implant and your gums will need to be free from periodontal disease.
Simply stated, you will need to meet the following 3 criteria to be a candidate for dental implants:
- You have healthy gums free from periodontal disease.
- You are not a smoker and do not use tobacco products.
- You have sufficient bone density to support the implants.
What are the long-term benefits of dental implants?
Dental implants are a great option for patients with missing teeth who want to restore their smile. But implants have a variety of long-term benefits too.
- Dental implants don’t create challenges with grinding on adjacent teeth that can occur with bridges. Your remaining natural teeth will be protected by dental implants.
- With dental implants, you don’t need to remove them to eat or chew. This means you can eat what you want. The fear of your dentures falling out in public will become a thing of the past.
- Dental implants are a permanent solution since they are fused directly to the jawbone for a firm, permanent anchor for your dental crown to sit on.
- Your new dental implants will not only last forever when properly cared for, but can reduce your risk for periodontal disease. As a result, you may be at lower risk for other serious health problems, such as diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes.
- Dental implants will help maintain your facial structure, helping you to avoid that sunken-in look that many people with dentures develop over the years.
What are some common alternatives to getting a dental implant?
The most common alternatives to dental implants for missing teeth include dentures, implant-supported dentures, and bridges. Dentures are a removable replacement for missing teeth and the surrounding tissues.
Patients may get one of two different types of dentures, depending on how many missing teeth they have: complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are a great option for patients with all of their teeth missing. Partial dentures, on the other hand, are common when some natural teeth remain.
Implant-supported dentures are stronger than traditional dentures and do not rub over the gums. As such, the implants stimulate the jawbone to prevent atrophy, keeping the jawbone from deteriorating. Imagine traditional dentures that are not removable and are instead affixed to the abutments attached to your implants.
Finally, a dental bridge fills the gap with one or more artificial (false) teeth. Dentists typically recommend a bridge constructed of dental crowns on either side of your missing tooth or teeth supporting the pontic (false tooth) that is then permanently affixed in place.
Visit The Tooth Doc for your dental implant consultation.
The best way to determine your options to replace your missing teeth is to consult a dentist who is well versed in restorative dentistry. If you live or work in or near Omaha, The Tooth Doc is a great place for you to schedule a consultation.
We can work with you on your options and help you regain your smile and confidence. And before long, you’ll understand why dental implants are the new way to replace teeth—and a popular one at that. Be sure to check out our article on what to expect at your implant consultation and how to prepare for it.
Then, request an appointment using our online form. We look forward to meeting you.