Many people get dental implants, which are artificial tooth roots, to replace a missing tooth or teeth. Missing teeth can cause neighboring teeth to move and fill the space where a tooth used to be. This can eventually cause issues with your bite and bone structure and interfere with your ability to eat. People who have several missing teeth may see changes to the shape of their face, as the area around the cheek or mouth where teeth are missing typically sinks in.
Long-term cost savings: Dental implants offer an alternative to dentures and bridges. Initially, they may cost more, but they’ll save you money in the long run.
Built to last: Dentures and bridges need to be replaced every five to 15 years, but dental implants can last much longer with proper care.
Stops bone loss: When a tooth is missing, the jawbone can waste away over time. Dentures and bridges may seem to work like your permanent teeth, but your jawbone is still wasting away as if the tooth were missing.
Implants and your jawbone—a perfect match: Dental implants are made of titanium, which bonds securely with your jawbone. This procedure strengthens and promotes bone growth and stabilizes that area of your mouth.
Since a dental implant is similar to a natural tooth, it can be a good long-term investment in your health. An implant lets you chew as naturally as you would with your natural teeth. You don’t have to worry about food getting stuck under bridges or not being able to bite into certain foods with dentures—or having them slip. If you’re self-conscious about your smile, implants can help restore your confidence.
Getting an implant
If your teeth have been missing for a while, you may have had some bone loss. That means you’ll need a bone graft before you can get implants. A bone graft is a surgical procedure that takes bone from another part of your body to repair and rebuild an area where bones are diseased, damaged, or missing.
Here’s what to expect when you get an implant:
- Your dentist will screw a titanium base into the socket where your tooth’s roots used to be.
- Over a period of three to six months, the bone around the implant heals and grows around the surface of the implant, “fusing” with it.
- Your dentist will build the dental implant abutment, which is attached to the implant and comes through the gum tissue.
- A crown is made, and is either cemented over or screwed into the abutment. The implant will blend in with your other teeth.
Caring for your implant
Like your natural teeth, dental implants need to be brushed and flossed regularly. During regular visits, your dentist will check your implant and tell you how to care for it so that it will last as long as possible. That’s why it’s important to see your dentist regularly.
Pay a little now, save more later
When you consider the long-term benefits of better health, lower costs, and the staying power that an implant offers, the investment you make in an implant is money well spent. Ask your dentist whether implants are right for you.