Maintaining a terrific smile as you age can be difficult and if teeth are not properly taken care of, they become compromised and have to be extracted. As the American College of Prosthodontics notes, approximately 178 million Americans are currently missing at least one tooth.
Historically, several civilizations have come up with some unique approaches to missing teeth including ancient Egypt, where archaeologists have discovered several examples of teeth that had dental bridges or “prosthetic appliances.”
More recently, our nation’s first President, George Washington, suffered frequent toothache and had several missing teeth and eventually had to have a partial denture fabricated from ivory and wired in place to the remaining teeth. A full set of the President’s denture is on display at Mount Vernon, the historic home of George and Martha Washington.
More recently, the dental implant has evolved to be the first choice for replacement of a missing tooth/teeth. First placed in the 1960’s the implant has developed various solutions capable of providing permanent solution to a compromised tooth or teeth. If you have lost one or more teeth, you need to understand why dental implants are the go-to option.
What Are Dental Implants?
Unlike other tooth replacement methods, implants are a more natural and permanent solution. Dental implants include an anchor, usually ceramic or titanium, placed into the jawbone. After a period of 4-6 months the implant fuses, or technically, osseointegrates with the surrounding bone, creating a solid foundation for placement of a crown or fabricated tooth.
The implant also serves as an anchor in the jaw bone. Bone loss is often associated with a missing tooth, which in turn leads to a hollow look in the cheeks since the bone tissue is no longer present and can be viewed as premature ageing. Unlike a bridge, a dental implant is able to anchor surrounding bone and avoid the bone loss that often accompanies missing teeth.
Dental implants have few if any side effects and are the nearest thing to having your real teeth back. Keep in mind that an implant can support more than one tooth. For instance, four implants can be used to support a replacement upper or lower arch or both, depending on the extent of tooth loss.. Unlike a denture, the teeth are not removable and having much greater biting power of natural teeth up to 90% according to some studies. Dentures have 20-30% biting power.
Who Should Get Dental Implants?
Dental implants are appropriate for most adults, even those of advanced age. In fact, implants can benefit the health of older patients because they eliminate the discomfort of sliding dentures and allow the patient to eat the foods they enjoy, and also make sure they get the nutrition that they need. Your oral surgeon will evaluate your medical history to determine if implants are a good choice for you. You may be a suitable implant candidate if the following are true:
- You have enough healthy bone to hold the implants.
- Your gums and other oral tissues are healthy.
- You do not smoke.
- Your jawbone has reached full growth.
What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?
For a good reason, dental implants have become the best solution compared to other tooth replacement options.
- Implants have a look and feel more like natural teeth, including a functional capacity of 90% of natural teeth, unlike dentures that provide 10-30% function.
- Implants have proven that with proper care, they can last a lifetime.
- Third, the lifetime costs of an implant contrasted to a denture are very competitive as one has to consider the expenses of denture adjustments, chair-time fees to the patient for increased dental visits, and replacement costs as most dental appliances have a 5-7 year lifetime.
- A dental implants does not need special daily care, simply floss and brush as you would natural teeth. In contrast, dentures must be removed and cleaned daily to maintain their appearance and to keep your mouth and gums healthy.
- Finally, implants give you more confidence since they are a permanent solution that means no one will see you, night or day, without a bright and beautiful smile.
What Should You Expect from the Dental Implant Procedure?
A tooth implant is an outpatient procedure done under general anesthesia. Your surgeon may complete the implant process in several phases. After you’ve had a regular dental exam and medical assessment, your oral surgeon may need to do the following:
- Remove a damaged tooth
- Graft bone onto your jaw if necessary
- Place the dental implant
- Allow for healing
- Place an abutment (an attachment that holds the artificial tooth in place)
- Attach the artificial tooth
The process may require several months for your oral surgeon to complete, particularly if you need a bone graft, but an implant that is properly taken care of can last a lifetime.
Sometimes, your surgeon can complete an immediate load procedure that allows them to attach the artificial tooth immediately after placing the implant.
What Happens After the Procedure?
Most people only have minor after-effects from their implant surgery. You may experience facial and gum swelling, some bruising, pain at the surgical site, or minor bleeding. You might need to stick to soft food for a few days and take pain relievers and antibiotics.
Most dental implant surgeries are successful, with issues or infections being very rare.
How Woodview Oral Surgery Can Help
Missing and severely decayed teeth are a painful and often embarrassing problem that can affect your overall health and self-esteem. You may not want to try traditional options such as dentures, which can be uncomfortable and look unnatural. Fortunately, a skilled oral surgeon can correct your dental issues.
In the DC area, Woodview Oral Surgery offers you the latest and safest oral surgery techniques. You can regain your oral health and your confidence by booking an appointment. If you are interested in dental implants, contact us today for more information.