Dental implants help patients who have missing teeth and either lack the confidence they once had with their smile, or they have trouble functioning without them. They may be an option for those who want to increase their self-esteem and aren’t ready to commit to dentures.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots usually made from metal or biocompatible material, such as titanium or ceramic. These biocompatible materials are often found in the body, so they fuse easily to the jawline and make healing less troublesome. Another positive aspect of the material is that the body doesn’t see the implants as foreign objects, so usually there are no rejection issues.
The result is a replacement tooth that provides a stable foundation for further dental procedures, such as a crown, bridge, or dentures.
Dental Implants as a Procedure
There are typically three stages to preparing for dental implants:
- Comprehensive Dental Exams. To prepare for the procedure, we must first develop dental x-rays, 3D images, and models of the patient’s teeth and jaw.
- Medical History Review. We must also review the patient’s medical history to learn about possible complications that may arise, since dental implants are a surgical procedure. We need to be aware of any previous medical conditions and any prescribed or over-the-counter medications being taken. Antibiotics may also be provided before surgery to prevent infection, so we need to be aware of any heart conditions or orthopedic implants.
- Treatment. Finally, we will review a customized treatment plan for the patient since each case is unique. We take into consideration the number of teeth lost, the state of the teeth remaining, and the jawbone.
The Benefits of Dental Implants
There are several benefits to this procedure, and why we may recommend them to a patient:
1. More Secure Than Bridges and Dentures
Dental implants offer more secure tooth placement than other forms of tooth-replacement practices like bridges and dentures. They tend to be more secure since they mimic a patient’s natural tooth structure, so a patient can feel confident and secure in the smile they have. They are also more secure since the implant directly connects to the patient’s jawline.
2. Stimulate Bone Tissue
Dental implants are also different from bridges and dentures as they can help strengthen a patient’s jawbone. When a patient is missing a tooth, the tissue where the tooth used to be begins to weaken and deteriorate the bone tissue from the lack of stimulation. Dental implants stimulate the tissue, so the jawbone will not deteriorate, but will strengthen the bone tissue.
3. Protects From Bone Loss
Similar to stimulating bone tissue to keep the jaw healthy, they also prevent bone loss. This prevention of bone loss has the added benefits of keeping the patient’s mouth healthier and retaining the shape of their face.
Candidacy for Dental Implants
For patients to be eligible for dental implants, patients need to have the following for us to help them:
- Healthy gums: Patients can still receive dental implants, but if they have a condition that affects their gums, such as gum diseases like gingivitis, that needs treatment first. Dental implants will not be successful if the gums are not healthy.
- Substantial jawbone tissue: Patients also need to have a substantial amount of jawbone tissue for the implants to be anchored into for a successful procedure resulting in proper functionality. If there is no substantial tissue to anchor the implants to, they will not have a firm enough grip. Fortunately, a bone graft is available as an option for patients who still wish to receive dental implants.