The idea of using dental implants to replace missing teeth has really taken off in the last decade. There are very good reasons why implants have become the preferred option.
Your teeth have roots that connect them to the underlying bone. When you chew, the enormous pressure of chewing is transferred from the tooth through the roots to the bone. That’s the system that nature has developed to allow us to eat all kinds of things without problems.
The traditional method of replacing one or more missing teeth is with a dental bridge.
Dental bridges are durable and do a good job of restoring the appearance and function of your missing teeth. But bridges do have limitations and drawbacks.
Bridges are supported by the teeth on either side of the space left by the missing tooth or teeth. When a person with a dental bridge chews, all that force is transferred to the neighboring teeth, not to the bone beneath. That puts a lot of stress on those teeth and on the crowns that cover them and hold the bridge in place. Over time, those crowns can fail and require that the bridge be replaced.
Dental implants closely resemble the structure of your own teeth.
The implant itself is a small metal screw, usually made of very strong material like titanium. The metal itself is inert and won’t react with or cause problems in the body. That screw is inserted through the gums and into the bone beneath.
The restoration is a full dental crown, or artificial tooth, that carefully secured onto the implant. When you chew on a dental implant, the force is transmitted from the tooth through the screw to the bone.
Dental implants are the strongest and most durable dental restorations available. The implant itself should last your lifetime. The restoration can easily last 10 to 15 years or even longer. If the restoration needs to be replaced, it’s simply detached from the screw and a new one is “loaded” onto the implant.
There’s another benefit to implants. When a tooth is lost, the bone begins to slowly deteriorate. Over time, that can change the shape of your face and cause you to appear older than you are. When an implant is placed, mimicking a tooth root, the bone is stimulated and remains strong and healthy.
In most cases, there’s a period of time required after the implant is placed to allow the bone to fuse around it. In some cases, it’s possible to “load” the restoration onto the implant immediately.
Implant-Supported and Implant-Retained Dentures
One of the problems with traditional dentures is that they can slip around in your mouth and can even pop out without warning. A series of implants can firmly anchor dentures in place.
Implant-retained dentures and implant-supported dentures use different means of attachment to the implants. The advantage for both types is that they remain firmly in place. You can have an entire upper or lower arch of teeth, or both arches, attached to implants. It’s an ideal solution to the usual problems with dentures.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
There’s only one way to know for certain if dental implants will work for you, and that’s to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hurcomb. She’ll perform a careful examination and take digital X-rays to determine three things.
First, is the remaining bone strong enough to support the implant and the pressure of chewing? This is really the key factor, and there’s simply no way to know for sure without X-rays and careful measurements. If your bone isn’t strong enough, bone grafting is a possibility. Dr. Hurcomb will discuss your options for replacing your missing teeth.
Second, how healthy are your gums? Your gums help stabilize your teeth and also act as a barrier against infection. If your gums have receded or if there’s any active gum disease, those conditions will have to be addressed before implants can be placed.
And finally, your overall health is a consideration. Slow wound healing, perhaps from diabetes, the use of blood thinners, or medications that suppress your immune system can complicate the picture.
Don’t Live with Missing Teeth Any Longer
If you’re ready to find out if dental implants are right for you, schedule an appointment with Dr. Hurcomb. You can use our online scheduling application which will collect all the information necessary to provide you with dental care. It also allows you to choose the date and time for your appointment that works well with your schedule.
All of us at Tulip Tree Dental Care look forward to the opportunity to help.