Widely regarded as the gold standard of tooth replacement, dental implants are the most holistic, comprehensive method available for smile reconstruction. Tens of millions of people in the US have at least one missing tooth, most often due to decay and gum disease.
Missing teeth aren’t only unsightly in our culture, but missing teeth pose other health risks like jaw deterioration, other teeth shifting, and more decay and gum disease. While dentures and bridges replace lost teeth above the gum line, they do nothing to stop these health risks, because the root cause is the missing root. And this is why dental implants are the best choice for rebuilding a smile.
Dental implants are essentially a replacement for a lost tooth’s root. This sets them apart from other methods of tooth replacement like dentures or bridges. Dentures and bridges do repair the function and appearance of your smile, but dental implant surgery goes farther, replacing the biological function of your teeth as well. Let’s take a look at why this sets dental implants apart from the rest in terms of natural ways to restore a smile.
Dental Implants are a Permanent Solution to Tooth Loss
Because your jaw bone fuses around the implant root, a process called osseointegration, dental implants are not removed, making them a permanent method to replace teeth. Dentures and bridges, on the other hand, are removable and only semi-permanent, as they need refit every few years.
If an implant properly integrates with the jaw and the patient practices good dental hygiene, this comprehensive tooth prosthetic can last a lifetime. The typical lifespan of a titanium dental implant is 20-30 years or more, while zirconia implants are more like 15-20 because ceramic posts are more susceptible to wear and breaks.
Dental Implants Improve the Function of Your Bite
If you live with missing, broken and/or decaying teeth, you’ve likely had to change the way you drink, chew and speak. This can affect your health, as chewing the wrong way can cause your jaw to become misaligned, and painful chewing can stop you from eating nutritious foods.
Dental implants can take the same bite pressure as natural teeth, correcting a weak bite with gaps in it. While dentures and bridges also correct this to some extent, dental implants are the only method of replacing teeth that truly mimic the power and structure of a natural tooth because they’re anchored in the jaw.
Dental Implants Improve Your Appearance & Self-Esteem
Living with missing teeth has implications for your social and professional life. A bright, full smile will get you more opportunities in work and love, and it will help you feel good about yourself. As well, dental implants can correct a sagging, sallow jaw, which can be a visible symptom of missing back teeth.
A certain standard for smiles is important in our culture, and on a psychological level, smiling and laughing improves your health and mood, as well as the mood of those around you. When you don’t feel good about your smile, you’ll smile less. Maybe your speech will even be affected. Dental implant surgery, after the healing period and crown installation, has significant implications for your quality of life, both short and long-term.
Dental Implants Prevent Future Tooth Decay & Loss
Anything that causes you to lose one tooth begins a domino effect, and you will continue to lose teeth over time as they move towards the empty socket and also as your jaw begins to deteriorate. Dental implant surgery fills that empty socket, which keeps your other teeth and jaw stable.
Dental implants also prevent tooth decay on two levels. First, dental implants and their crowns can’t decay, meaning these are teeth that can’t get cavities or infections that require root canals. Second, by keeping your jaw healthy and all your other teeth in place, you lower your risk of further tooth decay in your remaining teeth.
Dental Implants Prevent Bone Deterioration in Your Jaw
Any time you lose a tooth, the place where it once sat in your jaw immediately starts to deteriorate, albeit slowly. Your jaw needs your teeth’s roots; the tooth and the jaw stimulate each other. If the site of the lost tooth is left empty, that part of the bone is essentially abandoned on a biological level.
This is why dental implants are the best option for holistic tooth replacement. By replacing the root of the tooth, dental implants stop jaw shrinkage at the site of the missing tooth. This stabilization not only preserves your jaw health, but prevents further damage to your jaw, teeth and gums by stopping that biological abandonment.
Dental Implants Appear Just Like Natural Teeth
While it’s true that dentures and bridges can give a naturally-appearing smile, dental implants are indistinguishable in look and feel from natural teeth, because they don’t sit on your gums; they sit in your jaw. That means no getting used to the feeling of having an installation in your mouth and learning how to speak and chew naturally with it in. In fact, once they’re healed, our patients tell us they often forget they had dental implant surgery at all.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
Dental implants aren’t right for everyone, as you need a level of oral health to ensure the implant is successful. If a dental implant dentist installs an implant post in an unhealthy mouth, it will likely fail and cause even more damage. Which is why they won’t. The good news is, even if your jaw health isn’t great, we can often help it out with some bone and soft tissue grafting which, after time, can make your jaw healthy enough to take the implant.
There are also hybrid denture and bridge implant options for patients with health complications. With the right oral surgeon and a creative approach to tooth replacement, dental implant surgery can fix your smile, improve your bite, and give you a set of fake teeth that are indistinguishable from natural ones. Because everyone deserves a healthy, functional smile they’re proud to show off.