If you’ve heard about recent advances in dental implants, you might be curious about what exactly dental implants are, how they work, and what they can do for you. If you’re looking to learn more about dental implants, then this is a great place to start. This guide can help you understand everything you need to know about dental implants—at least up to the point where you should talk to a dentist to learn whether they’re right for you.
What Are Dental Implants?
These days, when we refer to dental implants, we are usually talking about endosteal dental implants, implants that are placed within the jawbone to mimic the form and function of tooth roots.
With the exception of a few ancient examples, most of which seem to be placed after death, and the rest that were of dubious function, the first dental implants were placed about 50 years ago by Per-Ingvar Brånemark. Brånemark noticed that the bones could grow around and incorporate titanium so he started placing titanium implants in the jawbone of patients. Some of his original patients still have their implants, 50 years later.
What Dental Implants Can Do
Dental implants are designed to replace lost teeth. They can replace any number of lost teeth, from a single tooth lost to just a few lost teeth to an entire arch of lost teeth, which might be replaced with as few as four dental implants.
Implants do this by supporting dental restorations. Dental restorations may be a single dental crown or they might be a short dental bridge. However, they can also support an entire implant denture.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
We consider dental implants the best tooth replacement option in most circumstances. That’s because they are the tooth replacement that is most like your natural teeth. Dental implants:
- Let you eat all your favorite foods
- Look like natural teeth
- Make speech clearer
- Don’t come out when you yell, sneeze, or laugh
- Require no special care
- Stimulate jawbone and gums to maintain long-term stability
- Can last a lifetime
When you add together the benefits of dental implants, they have been proven to improve your quality of life over dentures and even fixed dental bridges. And over the long run they are about the same cost and maybe even cheaper than other tooth replacement options.
Who Can Get Dental Implants?
Most people are candidates for dental implants. There are really only three requirements to get implants. You must:
- Have lost one or more teeth
- Be an adult whose jaw has finished growing
- Be healthy enough for surgery
That’s all. If you meet those three criteria, you are a candidate for dental implants. However, there are some other factors that may impact your dental implant procedure, and may require additional time and additional procedures, or may impact your odds of success. These include:
- Amount and density of bone in the jaw
- Gum disease
If you don’t have enough bone in the area to secure implants, we might recommend a bone graft. If you have gum disease, it’s often best to treat gum disease first before placing implants. If you are a smoker, your risk of implant failure is significantly increased.
How Do You Care for Dental Implants?
As we mentioned above, dental implants are easy to care for. All you have to do is brush and floss normally and make your regular dental visits to clean your teeth.
Brushing with implants is completely normal. Flossing may sometimes require a little extra care, but it’s not appreciably harder than flossing natural teeth, depending on the configuration of your teeth.
Most people don’t need additional dental visits once their implants have been integrated into their jawbone. However, if you are at high risk for gum disease and other oral health problems, we might recommend that you visit us three or four times a year to make sure your implant is healthy. Even in that case, we will soon allow you to taper off to the usual two visits a year.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
Hopefully, we’ve answered most of your questions about dental implants. If you are considering dental implants in Summerlin and want to learn whether they are right for you, please call (702) 873-0324 today for an appointment with Dr. James B. Polley.