Of all the ways modern dentistry has to replace missing teeth, dental implants are by far the best. There is no tooth-replacement option that will give you a longer-lasting result. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implants may be an option for people who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason.
Implants also help preserve tooth-supporting bone that naturally deteriorates when a tooth is lost. Dental implants are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth. Loss of bone is one of the major hidden consequences of losing teeth. With dental implants, you’ll regain the ability to eat virtually anything and can smile with confidence, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved.
Why are Implants Better than Dentures and Bridges?
There are other routes a patient can take to replace missing teeth, including dentures and bridges; however, dental implants are a much better solution for many reasons.
- a dental implant replaces a single tooth without sacrificing the health of neighboring teeth. Adjacent teeth do not have to be altered to support an implant, such as with bridgework. This is significant for your overall oral health by leaving more of your own teeth untouched. With a tooth-supported fixed bridge, the adjacent teeth are ground down to support the fixed bridge.
- Because a dental implant will replace your tooth root, the bone is better preserved. Dental implants are integrated into the structure of your bone, preventing gum recession and possible bone loss that can sometimes be attributed to bridgework and dentures.
- In the long term, a single implant can be more esthetic and easier to keep clean than a bridge.
- Dental implants function just as your natural teeth do, offering you more comfort and stability than conventional dentures. Replacing all of your teeth is also possible with implant-supported full bridges or implant-supported dentures.
Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?
The ideal candidate for a dental implant is in good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant, and the best candidates have healthy gum tissues that are free of periodontal disease.
Placement of Dental Implants
Dental implants aid in replacing a single tooth, several teeth or even all of your teeth. The implant itself looks like a screw or cylinder and is placed into the jaw. Over the period of 2-6 months, the implant and jawbone bond together to provide an anchor for the crown. An abutment is used as an extension to complete the foundation for the new tooth to be attached.
Sinus Lift Surgery
A key to implant success is the quantity and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. The upper back jaw has traditionally been one of the most difficult areas to successfully place dental implants due to insufficient bone quantity and quality and the close proximity to the sinus. If you’ve lost bone in that area due to reasons such as periodontal disease or tooth loss, you may be left without enough bone to place implants.
Sinus lift surgery can help correct this problem by raising the sinus floor and developing bone for the placement of dental implants. Several techniques can be used to raise the sinus and allow for new bone to form. In one common technique, an incision is made to expose the bone. Then a small circle is cut into the bone. This bony piece is lifted into the sinus cavity, much like a trap door, and the space underneath is filled with bone graft material.
Finally, the incision is closed and healing is allowed to take place. Depending on your individual needs, the bone usually will be allowed to develop for about four to 12 months before implants can be placed. After the implants are placed, an additional healing period is required. In some cases, the implant can be placed at the same time the sinus is augmented.
Deformities in the upper or lower jaw can leave you with inadequate bone in which to place dental implants. This defect may have been caused by periodontal disease, wearing dentures, developmental defects, injury or trauma. Not only does this deformity cause problems in placing the implant, it can also cause an unattractive indentation in the jaw line near the missing teeth that may be difficult to clean and maintain.
To correct the problem, the gum is lifted away from the ridge to expose the bony defect. The defect is then filled with bone or bone substitute to build up the ridge.
Finally, the incision is closed and healing is allowed to take place. Depending on your individual needs, the bone usually will be allowed to develop for about four to 12 months before implants can be placed. In some cases, the implant can be placed at the same time the ridge is modified.