What are dental implants?
Dental implants are a titanium post that acts as a replacement for a missing tooth root, giving structure to your jaw and allowing a stable, permanent mount for an artificial tooth. The new tooth looks real, feel comfortable and (major benefit!) doesn’t restrict your diet.
While one missing tooth is solved with one implant, a whole jaw’s worth of teeth can be replaced with as few as four implants, as they provide the structure your jaw needs to support new teeth. The number you require will depend on your jawbone’s size and strength and is something that your dentist will talk to you about.
However, implants do involve an operation under either local or general anaesthetic (depending on your dentist’s practise and your preference). This means it’s important to consider the benefits properly in comparison to other, less permanent solutions, such as bridges and dentures.
Here are four of the most significant benefits of dental implants:
- Jaw strength
Dental implants have many benefits in comparison to bridges or dentures, but the biggest by far is in relation to the jaw. When you have a missing tooth, it’s not just the visible part of the tooth that’s important: tooth roots go down to the jawbone and therefore provide necessary structure to the bone. Without the root, your jaw becomes weaker in time and can change shape, which causes the appearance of premature ageing. While dentures and bridges provide a replacement for the visible part of the tooth, they do nothing to support the jawbone – and ultimately can cause damage to other teeth. With dental implants, the titanium post replaces the root of the tooth and gives structure and strength to your jawbone. It therefore offers a more effective solution than dentures or bridges to missing teeth.
- A permanent solution
‘Permanent’ dentures and bridges last up to ten years with the proper care while dental implants can last a lifetime. They require lower maintenance than partial dentures, but you still need good oral hygiene practices to keep them at their best for decades. As the implant sits within the gum, fusing to the jaw, it’s important to maintain healthy gums. Just like with real teeth, regular dental visits ensure that any problems are spotted and sorted, and means your dentist can continually guide you in the best ways to ensure good oral health.
While bridges can last up to ten years, your mouth shape changes, particularly without tooth roots supporting your jaw. It means that bridges and permanent dentures can become uncomfortable and loose after a few years. Dentures can also be associated with painful sore spots in the mouth and partial dentures put strain on other teeth. In comparison, dental implants aren’t dependent upon other teeth but, like a natural tooth, are rooted into the gum. This avoids painful and damaging strain on other teeth or sore spots in the mouth.
We need our teeth to help us speak clearly, as every seven-year-old with missing front teeth knows! Patients often struggle with the way loose dentures and bridges cause lisps or difficulty speaking, but as dental implants don’t come loose, they keep your speech sounding natural and your pronunciation clear.
- For everyone
Dental implants work for a huge range of people. They aren’t appropriate for growing children, as their jawbones are still changing and strengthening, but every adult with missing teeth should be able to have a dental implant fitted. Some dentists suggest that it is inappropriate for smokers, as smoking affects gum and teeth health, but you should talk to your dentist if you’re unsure!
For some people, extra treatments are required before a dental implant can be fitted. There are three common options: bone expansion (if you’re jaw is too narrow), bone graft (to strengthen your jaw) and a sinus lift (if there is not enough room for the implant in your upper jaw). When you begin the process of getting a dental implant, your dentist will x-ray your jaw to discover if the shape or structure of your bone means you will need an extra treatment.
Dental implants are a fantastic, natural-looking solution to missing teeth that come without the discomfort and fuss of dentures. If you have missing teeth and are interested in finding out more about dental implants, talk to an experienced dentist. Churchfield Dental Centre have a professional and fully qualified team that can guide you through the process with care and consideration – http://www.churchfielddental.co.uk/our-services/dental-implants/