Dental implants can be a great solution for those with missing or severely damaged teeth, but it’s important to make sure that they’re right for you.
There’s a good chance that you’ve seen an advertisement for dental implants somewhere on TV or a billboard. But if you’re like most of us, you probably don’t know exactly what purpose they serve or even what they are, much less whether they’re right for you. Here’s a quick rundown on dental implants, and some things to consider before making your decision.
What Are They?
Most simply put, dental implants are permanent replacement teeth — artificial tooth roots surgically integrated into the jaw or mouth bridge onto which a crown is placed. They’re typically an option for those who have lost a tooth or multiple teeth due to an injury, periodontal disease, or any other reason, and for those who are unable or unwilling to wear dentures.
There are three types of implants — endosteal, subperiosteal, and transosteal — and which one is used largely depends on the individual patient’s bone structure. Endosteal is the most common and involves the direct placement of the implant into the jawbone. These implants are usually screws, cylinders, or blades, and serve as the base for the porcelain or ceramic crown. Subperiosteal implants, meanwhile, are placed on top of the jaw, with the metal framework extending out of the gum to hold the artificial tooth in place. Transosteal are the most invasive as the implants are inserted through the jawbone and a surgery beneath the chin is necessary.
Do I Need Them?
Of course, dental implants are only an option if your tooth is missing or severely damaged. The procedure is an invasive surgery, and therefore not a great treatment for minor cosmetic issues. Because the implants become incorporated with the jawbone and gums, you need healthy gums and sufficient bone for the procedure to be successful. Any signs of gum disease or oral cancer will dissuade your dentist from approving the surgery because these conditions can increase the risk of infection as well as the time it takes to heal.
Your immune system must be healthy enough to withstand the surgery, too, so be sure to consult both your doctor and dentist to determine your eligibility for implants.
Dental implants may not be real teeth, but they nonetheless require the same commitment and care that your original ones do. Consequently, you’ll need to maintain the same, healthy oral habits, including regular flossing, brushing, rinsing, and twice-annual checkups. And of course if you’re a smoker, you should quit.
The best way to know for sure if dental implants are the best choice for you is to visit your dentist and consult a periodontist. Finding the best solution can prove challenging (and expensive) if you don’t know where to begin or if your insurance doesn’t cover dental care.
SingleCare can connect you to our network of dentists and find the best one near you with our searchable online database of practicing oral health professionals. Members pay only for the treatments they receive — at the same negotiated prices the insurance companies themselves pay — with none of the usual, complicated paperwork required. With SingleCare you can focus on your toothache, and not the headache of insurance.
(Main image credit: HconQ/Thinkstock)