Millions of Americans are missing at least one tooth. For people unhappy with missing teeth, dental implants may be the ideal solution. Dental implants look, feel, and work like natural teeth. Unlike bridges, dental implants often don’t require additional dental work to be done on surrounding teeth.
But are dental implants right for you? If you’ve been asking yourself, “Should I get dental implants?” keep reading to see if you might be a candidate.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth that replaces a natural one that’s been lost to decay, gum disease, or trauma. Dental implants can be used to replace one tooth, several teeth, or even all teeth. There are three general types of dental implants:
- Endosteal Implant—this is the most common type of dental implant and is used to replace a single tooth. This dental implant consists of a titanium post that is attached to the jawbone and a crown portion of the tooth that is visible above the gumline.
- Implant-Supported Bridge—this dental implant solution can be used to replace multiple missing teeth in a row. This dental implant resembles a row of natural teeth but only two of them have posts that allow them to be implanted into the jawbone.
- Implant-Retain Denture—this dental implant is used to replace all of the teeth on the upper or bottom jaw. Four posts are implanted into the jawbone and then a full denture is affixed to the posts. The implant-retain denture can be a great solution for people who need dentures but don’t want to deal with slippage or affixing them to the gums with a denture paste product.
No matter which dental implant is best for you, you’ll need to have a post inserted first as part of the process. After a few months, once your jawbone has strengthened around the post, your doctor will fit you for a crown. Your doctor can recommend the best type of dental implant for you based on your situation.
Who Makes a Good Dental Implant Candidate?
Anyone can be a good candidate for dental implant surgery. If you are in good overall health then you’ll usually qualify for dental implant surgery. However, you may have an additional edge if any of the following apply to you:
Dental implants require enough jawbone to support the post portion and to keep them fixated in your mouth. Your dentist will be able to tell if you have enough jawbone for a dental implant. Usually, people who don’t have gum disease or other oral conditions that can affect jawbone volume should be able to receive a dental implant.
But even if your jawbone has shrunk, you may still be a dental implant candidate if you receive bone grafting surgery. This is when a piece of the jawbone is taken from another part of the mouth and placed in the area that needs more density so it can help regenerate the bone. Your dentist can determine if you’re a candidate for a bone graft as part of the dental implant evaluation.
Periodontitis, or advanced gum disease, can eventually damage your jawbone to the point it shrinks. A dental implant needs not only enough jawbone density, but healthy gums to stay in place.
Your doctor will let you know if you qualify for gum grafts that can help build up the gums for dental implant surgery.
Smoking can affect blood flow and circulation to the point that it takes longer for the body to heal following any kind of surgery, including dental implant procedures. This means it may take longer for the jawbone to build up around your dental implant post and longer in general for the gums and area to heal.
Your doctor may instruct you to stop smoking a few months before your scheduled dental implant surgery so it has a better chance of success.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants may be right for you if the advantages appeal to you. These are the main advantages of getting dental implants.
Indistinguishable from Natural Teeth
Dental implants are indistinguishable from natural teeth because they not only look like real teeth, but the dental implant portion of the tooth resides beneath the gumline. When you smile, no one will be able to tell you’ve had dental implant surgery unless you tell them.
Your dentist will carefully match the crown part of the dental implant to the rest of your teeth so that the shade blends in with your natural teeth’s appearance. They will also make an impression of the area of the mouth receiving the dental implant so the crown’s size and shape fit perfectly with the surrounding teeth.
When you run your tongue over your dental implant, you’ll also notice that it feels like a real tooth. The crown portion of the dental implant is usually made of a smooth ceramic material.
Use Them Like Natural Teeth
Imagine being able to eat steak, popcorn, nuts, and other foods because you’re not missing a tooth or teeth. Dental implants allow you to chew and enjoy your favorite foods again. Just like natural teeth, dental implants can support many pounds of pressure in your mouth.
Supports Your Natural Teeth
Before you get a dental implant, you may notice that teeth surrounding a missing tooth can shift and drift out of place because their additional support is gone. This can lead to problems eating and speaking and may even require dental work.
Having a tooth replaced with a dental implant instantly provides the support that surrounding teeth need to stay upright and in place.
It can be embarrassing to smile or even speak when you’re missing teeth. If you don’t have dental implants, many people with a gap in their teeth may cover their mouth when they laugh or avoid laughing altogether.
Dental implants can restore self-esteem and confidence in all areas of your life, from job interviews to going out on dates. And because they look like natural teeth, no one will be able to tell you’ve had a dental implant.
What Are You Waiting For?
If you’re still asking yourself, “Should I get dental implants?” the answer is yes. The truth is no other missing tooth solution offers quite the same benefits that dental implants do.