For several years, the only option that a patient with tooth loss had was wearing dentures or having bridges. However, advancements in science has given these patients one more option – Dental Implants.
What Is A Dental Implant?
A dental implant is essentially a metal frame that is inserted into a person’s jawbone surgically for allowing the dentist to place a replacement teeth. This metal implant is allowed to merge with the jawbone over a period of few months through a process known as osseointegration. Dental implant primarily works as replacement for the root of the missing tooth and holds the bridge or replacement tooth.
Dentists use dental implants since it mimics natural tooth very closely and does not affect the adjoining teeth and offers great stability. Most of the dental implants present in the market today are titanium-based implants. The main reason for this is the fact that titanium allows the implants to fuse with jawbone without triggering any reaction in the body. Advancements in science and technology has ensured that the outcomes of dental implants have greatly improved, with a success rate nearing about 98%.
How Do They Work?
Since implants get fused to a person’s jawbone, they offer great stability for the artificial teeth. Bridges, crowns and dentures that are mounted on dental implants do not slip or shift in the mouth, especially when eating food or speaking. For few people, ordinary crown, dentures and bridges are very uncomfortable or simply not fitting on account of poor ridges, gagging or sore spots.
Additionally, ordinary bridges have to be attached to the person’s teeth on either side in the space created by missing tooth. A major advantage of using dental implant is the fact that no adjoining teeth have to be either ground down or prepared to hold new replacement tooth in place.
Why Replace Missing Tooth With Implant?
Missing teeth need to be replaced due to the following reasons:
- Shape: When a person loses a tooth/teeth, the area which held them starts dissolving. Dentals implants aid in preserving not only the jawbone but also the shape of the person’s jaw
- Nutrition: Losing tooth/teeth affects the person’s ability to properly chew food. It also restricts the type of food that a person can have, which can result in developing malnutrition, affecting the person’s overall health. Vegetables and raw fruits need greater amount of chewing and people who have teeth problem may tend to avoid these. Other options like pureeing, juicing, or blending, is not always the preferred option.
- Problems with Temporomandibular Joint: Teeth loss can cause changes in the way a person bites the food and the way the teeth comes together. Changes in the way one bites the food can cause problems with the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint)
- Speech Problems: Losing teeth could result in changes in the way one speaks which could affect the person’s self-confidence
- Self-esteem: Having complete set of teeth makes a person self-confident and he/she does not need to worry about people noticing the missing teeth or have worries about any denture problems
- Feel: Since the implant is fixed into the bone, it feels just like a natural tooth rather than dentures
Convenience: Besides the above-mentioned reasons, using dental implants can help the person not worry about using adhesives to stick the dentures into place or worry about dentures slipping or falling while speaking.
Are Implants Costly?
Implants are generally costly in comparison to other alternatives and a majority of insurance companies either do not cover or tend to cover 10% or less of the fees incurred. Furthermore, the implants could be expensive based upon the dental problem the person has. Cost of basic implant plus crown can range anywhere between US$2000 to US$5000, and fees may also vary.
Though the cost of implants is higher compared to other alternatives, these tend to pay off over a period of time. Moreover, it isn’t necessary to have implants for every single lost tooth. Based upon tooth/teeth loos, the dentist can discuss and decide the type of implant one needs.
How successful are dental implants?
The success rate for a ten-year period is nearly 98%. To put in perspective, the success rate of traditional bridges, crowns and root canals over a ten-year period is only 85%, while numerous medical procedures have success rate of nearly 75% over the same period.
Proper planning, performing surgery as well as following all prescribed rules, correct fabrication of prosthesis and proper patient maintenance can result in the achieving success rate of more than 98%.
Dental Implants vs Dentures?
Patients who have used dental implants have vouched for the fact that they are able to eat better and have started to enjoy foods which was not possible with dentures. They are comfortable when they eat and need not use adhesives for retaining the dentures. They have rediscovered their self-esteem and confidence and are able to smile, talk and laugh to their heart’s content without fear of their dentures slipping, clicking or falling out.
Would I have to be without teeth for long ?
No. Based upon the patient’s preference, provision can made for having temporary teeth. In cases involving worn out dentures, patients are asked to wear dentures sparingly, if possible, to allow proper healing of the jaws during initial 3 to 14 days.