Dealing with missing or damaged teeth can not only leave you feeling self-conscious about your smile, but it can also impact your quality of life and the foods you eat. Repairing teeth and filling in gaps may allow you to eat, drink, speak more normally, and feel more confident when you smile. Dental implants are one option for replacing missing teeth.
Dental implants have been used for decades, and the technology, materials, and procedures implemented have continued to improve. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, “3 million people in the United States have implants, a number that is growing by 500,000 annually.” If you are considering dental implants, you are not alone.
As you prepare for your consultation with an oral surgeon, here are some questions you might want to ask:
What are Dental Implants?
You have likely heard of dental implants, but what exactly are they? Simply put, a dental implant replaces the tooth root. A small titanium post is implanted in the jawbone filling the place of the original root. This titanium fuses to the bone through a process called osseointegration and forms a strong foundation to support an artificial tooth.
Once the implant is placed, a connector called an abutment is fitted on top, and this attaches to the replacement crown and holds it in position. The oral surgeon ensures that the dental implant is precisely inserted to support either a single tooth or a dental prosthetic such as a bridge or dentures.
How Do I Know If I Need a Dental Implant?
Replacing missing teeth is not the only reason you may want to consider dental implants as a treatment option. They can also be beneficial if:
- You have loose or damaged teeth that are unable to be repaired and will need to be extracted.
- You have a bridge or dentures that are uncomfortable or slip out of place.
Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
Although you may want dental implants, it is important to make sure you are a good candidate for the procedure. Fortunately, many people are, and issues such as low bone mass can often be corrected to allow for implants. Here are some of the qualifications oral surgeons often look for:
- You have one or more missing teeth.
- You have adequate bone mass and structure to support implants.
- You are not a smoker or are open to quitting. (Smoking can interfere with healing.)
- You have healthy gums.
- You want to improve how your teeth function and look.
What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
Many people opt for dental implants because they are a durable, long-lasting tooth replacement solution. In addition, they:
- Blend in with existing teeth to create a natural-looking smile.
- Restore the full function of your teeth, allowing you to eat the foods you like.
- Are fixed in place so they will not shift or move around when you talk, laugh, or eat.
- Do not deteriorate because the implant is made of titanium.
- May reduce the need for future procedures.