Dental implants are becoming more and more popular to replace missing teeth. They can be used to replace a single missing tooth, a couple teeth in a row or all your teeth. The best part about dental implants is that they work and feel just like natural teeth. If you're considering getting dental implants, make sure to ask your dentist these four questions first.
Am I a Good Candidate for a Dental Implant?
Like most oral procedures, the first two characteristics of a candidate for dental implants is good overall and oral health. Candidates should also have enough jawbone to support the implant. However, if the area has atrophied significantly because the tooth has been missing for a long period of time, dentists can perform a bone graft to add volume and strength to the jaw bone.
The gum tissue should also be healthy and free of gum disease. Periodontal disease inflames gums and causes them to recede. Patients with gum disease must work on controlling and, if possible, reversing their gum disease before an implant can be placed. Failure to do so, increases the chance of developing peri-implant disease, in which the gum recedes, revealing the titanium root of the implant and causing the bone structure to deteriorate. This weakens the implant, causes pain and affects the appearance of the smile.
What's the Success Rate and How Long Will a Dental Implant Last?
Dental implants have a success rate of up to 98 percent, and in many cases, the dental implant will last the rest of your life. The implant's life, however, largely depends on your oral health before the procedure and how well you care for the implant after the procedure.
True, a dental implant is a fake tooth, so it's not prone to decay like natural teeth, but this doesn't mean you can ignore cleaning the tooth. Instead of protecting the tooth, when you clean an implant, you are actually keeping the gums and the area between the implant clean. Forgetting to floss around the implant can lead to decay on the surrounding teeth, and it increases your chance of developing gum disease. If you have an implant supported bridge or denture, you may even need special tools to help clean under the implant.
How Long Does the Process Take?
The dental implant process can take anywhere between a few months to up to a year. The time frame varies from person to person based on their specific needs, and each procedure is a little different for everyone. Each process, however, involves many steps, and you have to wait months between each step to ensure proper healing.
Pretend that you just broke a tooth and got it pulled. You'll have to wait until the gum heals before going in and having the implant placed. Then you'll have to wait another few months before the crown can be placed. On the other hand, if you've had a tooth missing for years, the bone may have shrunk, which requires an additional step: a bone graft.
Are There Alternatives for Missing Teeth?
Dental implants are expensive, costing about $4250 for a single implant, and insurance pays for little, if any. If money is a problem, there are two other common alternatives for missing teeth. The first is partial dentures. Like regular dentures, they sit in your mouth and can be removed, but partial dentures only have false teeth where you need them. Partial dentures are significantly less expensive than implants, and insurance often pays for a large portion of the amount. However, they are not as durable as implants, and you won't be able to eat certain foods anymore.
A dental bridge is also another option to fill in missing teeth. Again, they are less expensive than implants, and insurance pays for some of the amount. Unlike dentures, however, bridges cannot be removed, and they are more durable than dentures. You can continue eating the same foods you love; however, they only last 5 to 15 years, so you'll end up spending more money and time to have them replaced.
Dental implants are the most durable and longest lasting option for missing teeth, and they work, look and feel just like your natural teeth. If you're ready to start the conversation about dental implants, contact a local cosmetic dentist today and get answers to all your questions.Share
5 March 2015
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