Dental implants are the best tooth replacement option in many ways because they are very much like your natural teeth. However, they’re not exactly the same. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the ways the two are similar and how they’re different so you can understand more about dental implants and what it will be like living with them.

Alike: They Support Themselves

Dental implants and natural teeth are alike because they support themselves. Partial dentures and dental bridges rely on natural teeth for support, but dental implants don’t. Relying on natural teeth for support creates challenges for the supporting teeth. Because of damage to the tooth and the accumulation of plaque on the natural teeth, supporting teeth could fail early.

Dental implants don’t weaken natural teeth or put them at risk. Your natural teeth remain as strong as ever. If anything, a dental implant will provide additional support and bracing for your natural teeth, which can drift if you leave an open space there.

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Unlike: Implants Can Support More Than One Tooth

A natural tooth root is only capable of supporting a single natural tooth. Sometimes two teeth might work together to support a third tooth as part of a dental bridge. However, that’s about as close as it gets to supporting more than one.

However, dental implants regularly support more than one tooth per implant. An extreme example is when four implants are used to support an entire arch of teeth (typically 20 teeth).

Alike: Fixed in Your Bone

Dental implants are like your natural teeth because they are also fixed in your jawbone. This makes dental implants different from traditional dentures, even dental bridges. Dentures rest on your gums, and bridges attach to your teeth, not the bone.

Because dental implants are fixed in your bone, you can bite and chew normally with them. You have almost the same bite force with dental implants that you had with natural teeth.

Unlike: No Wiggle Room

However, dental implants and natural teeth are fixed in your jawbone in slightly different ways. Natural teeth are attached to the bone with a periodontal ligament. This small, tough tissue is flexible, letting your natural teeth wiggle just a little bit in place, even when they’re healthy. Dental implants are attached directly to the bone. This means that healthy dental implants shouldn’t wiggle at all.

The periodontal ligament also helps stimulate the jawbone changes that let orthodontic treatment like Invisalign work, and facilitates the movement of a natural tooth as the jawbone grows. This is why orthodontic treatment isn’t recommended for people with implants, and why you should wait until your jaw finishes growing to get implants.

Alike: Easy to Care for

Dental implants are just as easy to care for as natural teeth. All you have to do is brush, floss, and make regular dental visits.

There might be a few minor differences. It can sometimes be hard to floss under or around the implants, but not appreciably more of a struggle than many have with natural teeth. Practicing with different tools like interdental cleaners, water flossers, and more can help.

Unlike: No Cavities

One way that implants aren’t like natural teeth is that they can’t get cavities. The acidic attack that lets oral bacteria penetrate natural teeth has little to no effect on dental implant crowns. However, you should never take it as a reason to cut back on brushing or flossing: keep cleaning your teeth as recommended.

Alike: Can Last a Lifetime

With proper care, it’s possible, though not guaranteed, that dental implants can last a lifetime, just like natural teeth. We have clinical studies showing good implant survival up to 20 or 30 years.

Some people have had dental implants for more than 50 years. There is no reason to believe that there is any limit to the length that dental implants could theoretically last.

Unlike: Can Replace the Crown

However, there is a difference between implants and natural teeth. When the crown of a natural tooth is damaged, it can put the entire tooth at risk. The tooth crown and the tooth root are a single unit, and when one fails it can take the other with it.

On the other hand, with dental implants, the crown and the implant are two different parts. Damage to the crown does not necessarily put the implant at risk. When necessary, a dentist can remove the crown and attach a new crown to the old implant.

Alike: Vulnerable to Gum Disease

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults. It’s also the leading cause of dental implant failure. In both cases, the disease can start and develop silently, only causing obvious symptoms when the disease is far advanced.

To head off gum disease, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene and get regular dental checkups and cleanings. You should also watch for the signs of gum disease, such as redness, bleeding, or swelling around the tooth or implant. This is always a sign of gum disease and needs attention before it becomes a serious problem.

Unlike: You Can Get Another Chance

When you lose a natural tooth, you can’t get it replaced with another natural tooth. A dental implant is your closest option.

However, if you lose a dental implant, perhaps to gum disease, you can get another dental implant. We will treat the disease that caused the implant loss, then, when your jaw is healthy again, we can place a new dental implant. With dental implants, there’s no need to be without natural teeth, ever.

Get Dental Implants in Las Vegas

If you are considering dental implants, Las Vegas implant dentist Dr. James B. Polley can help. Dr. Polley has extensive experience placing dental implants, has advanced technology to help with the procedure, and offers sedation dentistry (including IV sedation) to help you be comfortable during the implant procedure

Please call (702) 873-0324 or use our online contact form to schedule an implant consultation with Dr. James B. Polley in Las Vegas.