Sports injuries, accidents, and tooth decay are just a few of the reasons we might lose a tooth.
Thanks to modern dentistry, however, we don’t need to settle for having a gap in our smiles for the rest of our lives. There are a few ways to fill that gap, and one of them is with dental implants.
Partial and full dentures have been a common solution for missing teeth for many years, but they have their disadvantages. They are prone to slipping and falling out if not properly secured, and they can lead to jaw pain and soreness in the gums. They also do not stimulate the jaw bones, so patients with dentures tend to suffer bone loss.
Implants, on the other hand, are metal posts surgically placed in the jawbone under the gums and are basically a new root for a replacement tooth that looks and acts like a natural tooth. The only advantage dentures have over implants is that they are cheaper. It’s important to fill in the gap with an implant as soon as possible so the bone doesn’t erode and the surrounding teeth don’t collapse into the hole causing alignment and bite issues.
The health of the underlying jaw bone will determine a patient’s eligibility for implants and which type they will receive. In a patient with healthy bone, an endosteal implant will be used. This is simply a titanium post surgically placed into the jawbone. After a healing period, the patient will have a second surgery in which a crown is placed on top of the post.
For patients with bone that can’t support an endosteal implant (or patients who don’t want the surgery involved with them), there are subperiosteal implants. Instead of a titanium post, a metal frame is placed under the gums but on top of the jawbone. Posts are then added to this framework, and they protrude from the gum line like endosteal implants so that crowns can be attached.
In most cases where a patient needs orthodontic treatment as well as implants, the braces come first, because once an implant is in the jaw, it won’t move. On rare occasions, if the braces only need to shift the front teeth and the missing teeth are located in the back, the implant can be placed before or during orthodontic treatment!
Getting dental implants is nothing to be worried about! 3,000,000 people in the United States alone have at least one dental implant and that number continues to grow. If you need a dental implant, just talk to us! We’ll evaluate your situation and develop the perfect plan to get you the smile you deserve.
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.