Most dentists would agree that it’s important to replace missing teeth. There are a variety of methods to choose from when it comes to tooth replacement, but one that has become increasingly popular with dental patients over the past several years is the dental implant.
An implant consists of an artificial root made of titanium that is implanted into the patient’s jaw. This is a relatively simple procedure that is completed in the dentist’s office with a local anesthetic. After several months, the “root” fuses to the jawbone of the patient. Once that process is complete, your dentist affixes either a dental crown, bridge, or denture to the implant. Generally speaking, there are two types of implants available:
- Endosteal implant – One that is inserted into the bone, as described above (the most common type of implant)
- Subperiosteal implant – One that is positioned on the bone (typically used in patients with an inadequate amount of bone present)
Although the process of getting an implant is quite time-consuming, there are many reasons why so many patients choose this method for replacing missing teeth:
- Implants are permanently placed in the patient’s mouth, which means they don’t shift or slip the way some other appliances do, such as dentures, for example.
- Implants are “stand-alone” appliances, meaning they don’t rely on other teeth for support.
- Implants don’t require any special cleaning routines; the patients can simply brush and floss as they normally would for their natural teeth.
- Implants are extremely strong and durable; in fact, in many cases they will last for the lifetime of the patient.
Talking to your dentist is really the only way to determine whether or not an implant is the right choice for you. Most patients with an adequate and healthy jawbone would be good candidates for implants. But if you suffer from a chronic disease that might negatively impact how the implant fuses to the bone, this might not be the best choice for you. Your dentist will be able to review your health history, perform an exam, and determine whether you are a good candidate for an implant.
Whether you choose an implant or some other method, it’s important to replace missing teeth rather than elect to simply live without them. Over time, your other teeth will shift in place to fill the gap left behind by any missing teeth, and that can throw your bite off, making it difficult to chew some foods and possibly creating pain or discomfort in your mouth or jaw. Fortunately, modern dental technology offers a variety of methods for replacing missing teeth, including the very popular dental implant.