Dental implants are one of the greatest technological advances that we have in dentistry. Dental implants are basically titanium tooth roots, and are based on the same science and technology as joint replacements. In fact, some companies that manufacture dental implants also make joint replacements.
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Replace Missing Teeth
One of the chief ways that we use dental implants is to replace a single missing tooth. In the past, the go-to method to replace a single tooth would be what’s called a fixed partial denture or “bridge”. In order to make a bridge, you have to have a tooth present on either side of the missing tooth. The dentist then has to drill on these (possibly completely healthy) teeth to make enough room for a bridge retainer to fit over the teeth. Then one long, solid piece is cemented to the two teeth with a fake tooth in the middle the rests over the gums.
So what was once a one tooth problem is solved with a 3-tooth solution. If any of the teeth underneath the bridge has a problem in the future or if the bridge breaks, the whole bridge has to be replaced.
With a dental implant, a single tooth problem has a single tooth solution. No other teeth have to be drilled on. Unlike the bridge anchoring teeth, the dental implant can never decay.
Dental implants can also be used to help anchor dentures. The chief complaint that you will hear from many people with dentures is that they can have a tendency to move around when eating or speaking. This is especially likely to occur for someone who has been missing teeth for many years. The gum tissue and bony ridge that used to hold the natural teeth in place gradually shrinks over time. This means that the denture has less structure to grab hold of and will feel looser and begin to move.
Using dental implants to help anchor dentures has two benefits. The first is the patient will get an immediate increase in stability. Attachments are placed in the denture that hook to the implants. This prevents most moving and shifting.
The second benefit is that the presence of dental implants will actually prevent the gum and bony structure shrinkage that I mentioned above. Therefore, the denture continues to fit better over time than a denture without implants would. Basically this means less maintenance cost and better overall comfort and fit.
The Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants can also be used as a non-removable option for people who are missing all of their teeth but don’t like the idea or feel of a device that comes in and out of their mouth. Essentially it is like a very large bridge that rests completely on the dental implants. For many people, this feels much more like their old natural teeth. There are no worries at all about being embarrassed by their dentures coming loose at an inopportune time.
Again, dental implants can never decay, never need to have root canals, and if they are cleaned and maintained well, they will likely last longer than almost any other tooth replacement option that we currently have. Call our office if you would like to know about dental implants and if they may be an option for you or someone you love.