If you’re missing a tooth, you might be curious about replacement options. The most common replacement options for a missing tooth include a bridge or denture, but these aren’t always the best choice. While a bridge or denture might offer an aesthetic restoration, neither can truly replicate the functionality of a real tooth.
If you want to enjoy a restoration that looks, feels and functions like a real tooth, you need dental implants. This treatment is growing in popularity as it becomes more widespread, more affordable and therefore more accessible.
What are dental implants?
Dental implant treatment is a cosmetic dental procedure that replaces a missing tooth with an artificial root and crown, bridge or denture. The artificial root is made from titanium, which is able to bond with the jaw bone to create a strong anchor for the restoration.
The implant is designed to last a lifetime and should never need to be replaced, while the crown, bridge or denture may need to be repaired or replaced every 10-15 years. Once the procedure is complete, you can care for your dental implant just as you would care for your natural teeth.
How do dental implants work?
The dental implant is made up of three parts. The procedure starts by placing a titanium screw in a small hole in the jaw bone and leaving this to heal. The bone heals around the implant in a process known as osseointegration.
Next, a healing abutment is attached to the tip of the implant. This part sits above the surface of the gum and will eventually attach the crown, bridge or denture to the implant.
Dental implants are a very versatile treatment that can be used to hold a single crown to replace one missing tooth, or you can use multiple implants to hold a bridge to replace multiple teeth. With 4-6 implants, you could even hold a full arch restoration.
The pros of dental implants
There are many benefits to choosing dental implants, including:
Dental implants look and feel like natural teeth.
There is no risk that they will slip or come loose, and they also offer a very natural chewing experience.
The force of your bite is distributed across the jawbone, which means that no foods are off-limits.
Dental implants can preserve your jawbone and prevent loss of bone density.
Replacing a missing tooth can protect the surrounding and opposing teeth by preventing them from shifting.
Dental implants can last a lifetime, so there is only a one-time investment.
They are very easy to care for and you can brush and floss your teeth as normal, with no additional care requirements.
The cons of dental implants
While there may be considerable benefits to choosing dental implants, they are not without their flaws. These are some of the downsides to choosing dental implants to replace missing teeth.
They are more expensive than alternatives such as bridges or dentures. The upfront investment might be too expensive for some to consider.
The process of placing dental implants is very time-consuming and can take up to a year to complete. This is not a fast solution for missing teeth.
There are risks that things could go wrong during the procedure or that it might be revealed that you aren’t a good candidate.
There is a risk of rejection of the implant due to infection. Lifelong attention to good oral hygiene will be essential for protecting the implant and avoiding infection.
Not everyone is a suitable candidate for dental implants. If the patient takes particular medications or has insufficient bone mass, dental implants won’t work.
Alternatives to dental implants
The two most common alternatives to dental implants are bridges and dentures. A bridge will help to hide one or two missing teeth in a row. The surrounding teeth will provide the support for a crown restoration.
With dentures, the false teeth are attached to a baseplate that will sit against the gums and roof of the mouth. This can be held in place with denture glue to prevent it from slipping, but it is designed to be removed.
The main benefit of dental implants over these alternatives is that they replicate the function of a natural tooth. No other treatment option can offer this level of function.
Before choosing between dental implants or the alternatives, it’s vital to have all of the information. A consultation with a dental implant expert will help you to understand if you are a suitable candidate and what steps would be involved in placing your dental implants.
Cost is also a key consideration for many people, but it’s vital to consider the lifetime cost of different treatments. If a denture needs to be replaced every 10 years, then dental implants could provide a more cost-effective restoration.
Hear from our
These are just some of the kind words about our practice, direct from our incredible patients.