Are you facing the loss of your first tooth as an adult? Are you unhappy with the appearance or inconvenience of a partial denture? Or are you sick of having a gap in your smile? Dental implants can help if you find yourself in any of these situations. Dental implants are the best tooth replacement option available. They look and function like natural teeth, require no special care, and they can last a lifetime if you care for them properly.
Benefits of Dental Implants
In the years since dental implants were introduced, they have been rapidly growing in popularity because of the many benefits they offer. These benefits include:
- A natural tooth appearance
- Fully functional teeth
- Easy maintenance
- Support your bone and gums
- Can last decades, even a lifetime
These benefits set dental implants apart from tooth replacement solutions like partial dentures and dental bridges.
Dental implants are the most attractive tooth replacement option. Unlike partial dentures and dental bridges, the artificial tooth isn’t supported by fake gums or by connection with other teeth, which can give away your replacement teeth. Instead, your dental implants are supported the way natural teeth are: roots that are anchored in your jawbone.
Because your dental implants are anchored in the jawbone just like natural teeth, they are able to function completely like natural teeth. If you’ve been living with full or partial dentures, you have probably developed a list of foods you can’t eat, that you never expect to be able to eat again. But with dental implants, you will be able to eat them all again.
Dental implant maintenance is similar to that for natural teeth: just brush, floss, and make your regular dental visits. More on this later.
Your teeth and jawbone exist in harmony with one another. The jawbone supports the teeth, and the teeth stimulate the jawbone. When the teeth are gone, the jawbone begins to melt away. Neither dentures nor dental bridges stimulate the jawbone, but dental implants do, helping to maintain it, and maintain your facial appearance.
Dental implants regularly last decades and can even last a lifetime. We’ll talk more about this later.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
Most adults can get dental implants. Children aren’t considered candidates because their jaw is still growing, but most adults are eligible. In fact, you’re never too old to get dental implants. Studies show that elderly patients (age 80+) have as good a success rate as younger patients.
The best way to determine whether you’re a candidate for dental implants in Valdosta, GA, is is to schedules a consultation with implant dentist Dr. Clements.
However, in general, the ideal candidate for dental implants meets all the following characteristics:
- Missing one or more teeth
- Good oral health
- Good general health
- Adequate bone at the implant site
Of course, dental implants are only used if you’re actually missing teeth. But the number of teeth lost isn’t important. Dental implants can replace just one lost tooth or all the teeth in your mouth.
To be a candidate for dental implants, you should have good oral health. In particular, gum disease is a threat as it is to your natural teeth. Before we place your dental implants, we will treat gum disease, cavities, and infected teeth that may contribute to failure.
General health concerns are similar to other surgeries. Your doctor should clear you for surgery before you get your dental implants placed. We also need to consider what medications you are taking, as some of these can lead to increased risk of complications. Diabetes is a concern, as it can increase your risk of complications. Oral cancer and related radiation therapy are among the few reasons why you might not be a candidate for dental implants.
If you don’t have enough bone at the implant site, we may need to perform a bone graft before your implant procedure. In some cases, that may delay the placement of the implant while the graft heals–up to six months.
If you are a smoker, you are encouraged to quit. Smoking can significantly increase your risk of losing your dental implant. At a minimum, you will be asked to quit smoking for several weeks before and after the procedure to help your body incorporate the implants.
Dental Implant Process
First we will perform a comprehensive exam of your mouth to determine if they are the right treatment for you. We might propose alternative treatments, such as a root canal to save threatened teeth, a dental bridge or even dentures, depending on the overall condition of your mouth.
If we decide that dental implants are the right procedure for you, we will determine what treatments might be necessary before placing your dental implant, such as gum disease treatment or a bone graft. We will use a number of imaging techniques to ensure that you have adequate bone density at the implant site.
When your jaw is ready to receive the dental implant, we will place it. At the time of placement, we will determine how stable the implant is. If the implant is very stable, it can support a dental crown or dental bridge immediately. With a less stable implant, we might place a healing abutment–like a metal cap that sits on top of the implant and holds space for the dental crown. If the implant is very unstable, we might cover the implant up with the gums and allow it to heal without interference.
At your follow-up visits we will monitor how well the dental implant is integrating into your bone. When osseointegration is adequate, we will place the final tooth restoration.
Maintaining for a Lifetime
Once your final restorations have been placed, you will be responsible for maintaining them. With proper maintenance, they can last for decades. A large study of about 12,500 dental implants showed about 93% lasted 17 years, and anecdotal reports show implants can last much longer–40 or 50 years.
To give your dental implants the best chance for success, you should follow proper care guidelines. Dental implants should be brushed along with your natural teeth, and flossed carefully.
You should make your regular dental visits. In some cases, we may recommend that you make three visits for cleanings and checkups rather than two.
It’s also important that you watch out for possible complications, such as redness around the implant, pain at the implant, implant looseness, and more. You should report any potential complications right away.