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Understanding Dental Implants: A Long-Term Solution for Missing Teeth

Losing a tooth can seriously affect your quality of life; it doesn’t matter what you might be doing, whether smiling, eating or speaking comfortably. At Kidsgrove Dental Implant Centre, we understand that when it comes to replacing missing teeth, the best long-term solution isn’t dentures or bridges but dental implants.

In this article, I will cover the benefits of dental implants and what is involved in the treatment from beginning to end. 

Please feel free to contact Kidsgrove Dental Implant Centre for further information and to book your free consultation.

Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental implants offer several benefits, making them an attractive option for individuals who need permanent tooth replacement.

  1. ​Success rates: Dental implants have a success rate exceeding 95%, which is an excellent reason to consider them a replacement for missing teeth.
  2. Better Chewing: Dental implants allow you to chew your food better. In contrast to dentures, dental implants feel like your own teeth, and you can eat just about anything.
  3. Aesthetics: Implants are made to look and feel like a natural dentition. They will enhance your smile and boost your confidence.
  4. Speech Improvement: Missing teeth or ill-fitting dentures can affect your speech—dental implants help you speak clearly and confidently, as they are securely anchored in your jawbone.

What are Dental Implants?

Understanding the components of dental implants can help you understand their complexity and effectiveness.

  1. Implant post: In most cases, the implant post is built of titanium and inserted into the jawbone where your natural root once was. This acts as an anchor for the false tooth.
  2. Abutment: An abutment is a connector that attaches to either the part of the implant post that inserts into the gum or the metal framework in the retainer. It acts as an anchor and maintains the fixed crown.
  3. Crown: The visible portion, the part of your implant that looks like your natural tooth. The crown is precisely like your other teeth in colour, shape, and size because it is custom-made for your needs.

Types of Dental Implants

There are different types of dental implants to suit various needs:

  • Endosteal Implants: The most common type, placed directly into the jawbone.
  • Subperiosteal Implants: Placed under the gum but above the jawbone, suitable for patients with insufficient bone height.
  • Zygomatic Implants: Anchored in the cheekbone, used when there is inadequate bone in the upper jaw.

Components and Procedure

The dental implant procedure has several stages:

  • Consultation: Your dentist evaluates your oral health and discusses treatment options.
  • Dental scanning: Virtual images (left) with a digital impression (right) are captured to get detailed information about your teeth and jaw. 
  • Planning: Your dentist creates your precise treatment plan using a digital mockup.
  • Surgery: The implant post is surgically placed into your jawbone under local anaesthesia.
  • Recovery: A healing period allows the implant to integrate with the jawbone through osseointegration.
  • Abutment Placement: The abutment is attached once the implant fully integrates.
  • Crown Placement: The custom-made crown is placed on the abutment, completing the restoration.

Who is a Good Candidate?

Only some people are ideal candidates for dental implants. Factors that influence eligibility include:

  • Medical History: Conditions like diabetes or autoimmune diseases can affect healing.
  • Bone Health: Adequate bone density is crucial for supporting the implant. Bone grafting may be needed if you lack sufficient bone.
  • Smoking Habits: Smoking can impede healing and increase the risk of implant failure. It’s advisable to quit smoking before and after the procedure.

Cost & Insurance Coverage

The cost of dental implants depends on many factors, including the number of dental implants the patient wants, the type of implants, and whether additional procedures like bone grafting will be required. It is rare for insurance to cover the entire cost, so you’ll want to check with your provider first. Many offices offer payment plans if you need help paying the total price.

Alternatives to Dental Implants

Dental implants are preferred, but alternatives in the form of dentures and bridges exist. Dentures are removable replacements especially popular with older people; they are more affordable than implants but often less stable and comfortable. Bridges are anchored, permanent replacements for one or more teeth but rely on the adjacent teeth for support, which can cause tooth decay over time.

Caring for Dental Implants

Proper care for your implants will help ensure they last. The patient should maintain a strict oral hygiene regimen. Brush twice daily and floss once daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and nonabrasive toothpaste. Also, visit your dentist and dental hygienist for routine checkups and cleaning.

Potential Risks & Complications

Although dental implants offer many advantages, you should also be aware of the risks and complications that can occur after placing them to improve your oral health and smile. Understanding the potential risks can also help you prepare and protect the health and longevity of your implants.

  • Infection: Infection at the implant site is a risk factor. To prevent this complication, maintain good oral hygiene and follow the post-surgical precautions. 
  • Peri-implantitis: An inflammatory condition that affects the soft and hard tissues around the implant, where bone loss can occur, potentially leading to implant failure.
  • Nerve Damage: On rare occasions, surgery may damage the nerve leading to the lip muscles—the result could be pain, numbness, or tingling in the lip or front tooth region or a feeling of numbness.

Long-Term Outlook

A joyful older person with a bright smile, indicating long-term satisfaction and success with dental implants. The background is a dental office, symbolizing professional care and a high quality of life.

Dental implants are the most durable replacement for missing teeth. When properly placed and maintained, implants can last a lifetime because they are more challenging than other tooth replacements, such as dentures and crowns. Nightly brushing and daily flossing should be paired with regular dentist visits to ensure the implants stay in top condition.

Advanced Implant Techniques

Advancements in implant technology have improved treatment outcomes. Immediate loading allows the placement of a temporary crown on the same day as the implant surgery, reducing the overall treatment time.

The All-on-4 method uses four strategically placed implants to support an entire arch of prosthetic teeth, offering a stable and efficient solution for complete arch restoration.

Comparison of Different Implant Materials

The choice of implant material impacts the success and aesthetics of the treatment. Titanium is the most commonly used material for implants, and it is known for its biocompatibility and high success rate. 

Zirconia implants are an alternative for patients with metal sensitivities. They offer pleasing aesthetics and biocompatibility, though they may not be as widely available as titanium implants.

The Role of a Dentist in the Implant Process

Your dentist is a vital part of the equation here. Ensure your dentist has the appropriate qualifications and experience with implant dentistry, including documented training and certification. An implant dentist who is experienced with complex cases and unexpected complications generally increases your chances of success.

Comparing Dental Implants with Alternatives

AspectDental ImplantsDenturesBridges
DurabilityLong-lasting (Lifetime)Requires ReplacementModerate (5-15 years)
AestheticsNatural AppearanceVariableNatural Appearance
ComfortHighVariableHigh
MaintenanceLowHighModerate
CostHigherLowerModerate
Bone PreservationYesNoNo
Speech ImprovementYesVariableYes

Final Verdict

In a nutshell, dental implants are a well-supported permanent replacement for a missing tooth. Acquiring a clear understanding of what’s involved in a dental implant, ranging from the benefits of improved oral function to the dramatic improvement in your smile, will help you determine if it’s the right choice for your dental needs. 

If you decide to proceed with the procedure, you need to know the criteria for being a candidate, the process involved, and your dentist’s role in helping with your dental implant. 

Finally, once all is said and done and you have your beautiful, fully functioning smile, a few after-case tips will ensure your dental implants will last for many years.

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