Many people today are contemplating and trying to identify the pros and cons of dental implants. Dental implants are becoming the new standard of care in replacing missing teeth. In the past, dentists have used a removable or fixed denture to replace a missing tooth. A fixed denture is referred to as a bridge, and in order to make a bridge a dentist must grind down the teeth on either side of the missing tooth so that a new prosthetic tooth can go in over it. Dental implants make it possible to replace a tooth without affecting otherwise healthy teeth.
What are Dental Implants? In most all cases, the majority of dental implants are made of titanium metal. The tooth root implant, often called the “fixture” of an implant, is the piece that is surgically embedded in the jaw bone. After some healing time (anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks) the second piece, called the abutment, is installed on top of the fixture. The abutment part of the implant sticks out of the gums and is attached to the fixture by a screw. Soon thereafter, a crown can be made and fitted onto the abutment. Your dentist will also match the color of the new tooth to your natural teeth. Because the implant is secured within the jawbone, the replacement teeth look, feel, and function just like your own natural teeth.
How Successful are Dental Implants? Success rates of dental implants vary, depending on where in the jaw the implants are placed but, in general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 98%. With proper care, implants can last a lifetime.
How Painful is the Procedure? Most people who have received dental implants say that there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure. Local anesthesia can be used during the procedure, and most patients report that implants involve less pain than a tooth extraction.
Talk to your dentist to determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants or if you’d simply like some additional information. If you’ve had dental implants in the past, please feel free to share your experience in a comment!