We know that dental implants have a very high success rate. It’s one of the things that makes them the best tooth replacement option.
But whose standards should define success? If you want implants that are really successful for you, you need to define what are your implant goals and communicate those goals to your implant dentist so they can achieve dental implant success by your standards.
The Basic Definition of Implant Success
Implant dentistry is a clinical procedure that has clinical definitions for success. In order to be considered successful from a clinical standpoint, a dental implant must be:
- Successfully osseointegrated
- Surrounded by healthy gingival (gum) tissue
- Surrounded by enough bone to support the implant
Osseointegration is the process by which the dental implant, an artificial tooth root, bonds to your natural bone. About half of all implant failures are related to a failure in osseointegration.
Natural teeth can and should be slightly mobile. They are bonded to bone by the tough but flexible periodontal ligament. But dental implants bond directly to the bone. They shouldn’t move at all.
Gingival tissue, also called your gums, should surround dental implants the way they surround your natural teeth. Healthy gums are critical not just for aesthetics but to help protect your implants and teeth from infection and loss. Unfortunately, sometimes dental implants can irritate gum tissue, leading to gum recession around the implant.
Like your natural tooth root, dental implants are supported by your bone. Your body naturally begins to resorb bone tissue once your lose your teeth, which can mean that there’s not enough bone to support the implant.
If your implant meets these criteria, then it is clinically successful. But what are your goals for an implant?
I Want an Attractive Smile
Most people want replacement teeth to improve the aesthetics of their smile. A missing tooth creates an unattractive gap in their smile, but some replacement options can be almost as bad as the tooth gap.
Fortunately, dental implants can be very aesthetic, almost indistinguishable from natural teeth. In fact, dentists themselves often have difficulty identifying a well-designed dental implant.
I Want to Be Able to Eat
One of the biggest potential advantages of dental implants over removable dentures is the improved ability to eat a diverse, nutritious diet.
Most single-tooth implants should permit you to eat all the foods you enjoyed before. However, when you are replacing an entire arch of teeth, it is not guaranteed that you will be able to eat all the foods you wish.
There are several challenges. The normal process of mastication (chewing) moves your teeth in a pattern that can dislodge traditional dentures. It can even dislodge some implant dentures.
Another challenge is bite force. Even with dental implants, most dentures rest on the gums, which is where they pass on the biting force. This reduces the amount of force you can deliver with your teeth. If you can’t bite with enough strength, there are many foods you will simply be incapable of eating. However, implant-supported dentures pass on the force directly through the implants into the bone. This permits you to bite down with the same force you could deliver with natural teeth. With this type of implant denture, you should be able to eat a diverse, nutritious diet equivalent to what you ate with your natural teeth.
I Want Implants to Last
Dental implants are a long term solution to tooth loss. In fact, with proper maintenance, dental implants can last a lifetime. They have proven to last up to 50 years in some people, with no sign that there is a definite or expected lifetime for implants, although the restorations (crowns and dentures) might last only one or two decades.
Proper design and placement of dental implants creates a strong foundation for long term success. However, proper maintenance is critical, too. The leading threat to dental implants (after failure to osseointegrate) is peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis is like periodontal disease, but it affects dental implants. It’s a threat not just to your implants, but to your oral health.
Good oral hygiene and a nutritious, balanced diet not too high in sugars and other simple carbohydrates can help you avoid peri-implantitis. That makes it highly likely that your implants will last for decades.
I Want Affordable Dental Implants
One of the biggest concerns people have about dental implants is the cost. Most people think dental implants are expensive, and they do have a high up-front cost. However, the value of dental implants is also quite high, and when you apportion the cost over the expected lifetime of the implants, you will see that they are actually a good investment.
In addition, there are ways to make dental implants more affordable. Many people think that implants need to be placed by a dental specialist like an oral surgeon. However, this isn’t necessary, and some general dentists can offer more affordable procedure.
There is a caveat here: make sure your implant dentist is experienced in dental implant procedures and has a good track record of success. Experience is one of the most important factors in a successful dental implant procedure. Talk to your potential dentist about how many implants they’ve placed, and how frequently they place them.
Are You Looking for Dental Implant Success in Las Vegas?
Are you considering dental implants and want to find a dentist who can achieve all your goals for your dental implants? Implant dentist Dr. James B. Polley has helped many patients in the Las Vegas area achieve all their goals with dental implants from his office in Summerlin. Please call (702) 873-0324 today for an appointment with Dr. Polley to learn if he can help you, too.