Bridges and dentures aren't the only options when it comes to replacing missing teeth. Dental implants are another excellent, long-term solution for tooth replacement. They're made of titanium posts that your dentist surgically places in your upper or lower jaw to anchor your teeth. Dental implants are as secure and stable as your natural teeth, so there are no limitations on what you can eat, as is often not the case with dentures. If you're considering getting dental implants to replace missing teeth, here's what you need to know.
Advantages of Dental Implants
The main advantage of dental implants is that they look, function and feel just like your natural teeth. People who wear dentures know the frustration of not being able to eat certain foods like sticky, hard items or having to take their dentures out in public to eat certain things. Dentures can also slide, making chewing certain foods more difficult. Dental implants are more durable than dentures, improve comfort, and often boost self-esteem. Another advantage is longevity. When properly maintained, dental implants can last a lifetime. Dentures on the other hand need to be replaced on average, every five years, while dental bridges last about 10 years.
Types of Implants
There are two types of implants that the American Dental Association considers safe. Endosteal are the most common type of implant. Your dentist surgically places these directly into your jawbone and allows the gum tissue to heal around it. After your gums heal, your dentist will connect the post to your implant and then a replacement tooth is attached to the post. This can be done for one tooth or multiple teeth. Subperiosteal is the other type of implant and consists of a metal framework that your dentist places just below your gum tissue but above your jawbone. The posts are then attached to the frame and the replacement teeth are mounted to the posts. This type of implant is recommended for patients who do not have enough jawbone to support an endosteal implant and do not want to undergo a procedure to rebuild their jawbone.
Risks of Implants
Dental implants are a safe procedure. However, as with any surgery, there are some risks, though these are typically easily treated. Infection at the implant site is a possibility. Consult your dentist immediately if you notice signs of infection. On rare occasions nerve damage can occur, which can cause tingling, numbness, or pain in your gums or natural teeth. Injury can occur to surrounding teeth, or blood vessels, but this is also rare.