If you have missing teeth, you have a variety of options to restore your gorgeous smile, some of which are more permanent solutions than others. When considering these options, you might wonder if dental implants are worth the time and expense they require to complete the restoration. These benefits of implants, which are available through Dr. Steven C. Hewett in Champions Gate, FL, should help you make up your mind.
Are Dental Implants Worth It?
Reading about implants for missing teeth will educate you on the usual lengthy process involved in preparing your jaw for the implant, actually implanting the device through surgery, and waiting for it to completely heal to get the artificial tooth that goes on top of the implant. Once you see how long it can take to finalize the procedure, you may think twice about having it done. However, before making your decision, consider all these benefits that outweigh the drawbacks.
The most obvious benefit to getting a dental implants is how it improves your appearance. It will look and feel just like your real teeth, which you can’t get with any other type of tooth replacement. While implant alternatives may look fine at a distance, you may discover that people can tell you have a false tooth when they’re up close. This is not a problem with implants because no one will be able to see the actual implant itself.
You’ll probably see your confidence soar when you finish up with the implant process because your smile will be fully restored. You won’t need to remove it to clean it, as you would have to do with dentures or partials, a task that can remind you of the gap in your smile. That gap is effectively gone with an implant, and it’s not coming back every night before you go to bed or every time you brush your teeth.
Part of the process of getting a dental implant is preparing your jaw for the implant. Many times, the bone in the area where your tooth was will have degraded significantly because the bone is no longer stimulated to grow to keep your tooth alive. When this happens, we’ll have to build your jawbone up using a bone graft to make it strong enough to support the implant. This process will eventually lead to continued bone health around the implant.
The bone in the area of a missing tooth can lose up to 25% in volume in the year after it’s lost, but when an implant is placed, your body doesn’t know the difference between a real tooth root and the implant. It tells the bone to begin growing again, which means your jawbone will be stronger and healthier than it would be with any other type of tooth replacement option, especially since your jaw will fuse with the implant.
There are no tooth replacement alternatives that are as durable long-term as a dental implant. As mentioned above, your jawbone eventually merges with the implant, so it becomes a part of your body. It’s basically taking the place of your tooth’s actual root, so the implant offers just as much chewing power and stability as your natural tooth, if not more. An implant is designed to be a lifetime solution, and with good oral hygiene, it can be.
A dental implant is the most permanent tooth replacement solution available today. Unless you have an accident that knocks your new tooth out, or you fail to maintain proper tooth care, you can expect to never have to replace the implant. Compared with less permanent solutions like dentures, which you have to replace every five to eight years, a dental implant is a long-term solution that offers very few drawbacks once you finish the entire procedure.
No Speech Issues
Your new tooth implant is going to stay in place, unlike dentures, which can slide or become loose at the most inconvenient of times. This means you won’t have any speech issues once your implant is finished. You’ll be able to converse without worrying about your teeth coming out or anyone knowing you have a replacement tooth at all. Again, this leads to confidence in situations you may have felt overwhelmed in with your missing tooth.
Only the Missing Tooth Is Affected
A dental implant does not require abutment teeth to install. Abutment teeth are the teeth on either side of a bridge that are necessarily ground down to enable the bridge to stay in place. An implant is able to stand on its own because it’s embedded in your jaw. No other natural teeth have to be damaged to get an implant, which means you retain more of your natural smile than with other potential tooth replacement solutions.
Easy to Care For
There are no special toothpastes required to take care of your dental implant, and you don’t have to soak it overnight in fluid either. You simply brush your artificial tooth and floss between it and your natural teeth as if it were real. This means you can basically forget you even have an implant to take care of because you’ll be doing just that in the course of taking care of all your natural teeth. It’s really that simple.
Over Time, Implants Cost Less
A dental implant may seem like it’s more expensive than other options, and it probably will be, at least initially. However, keep in mind that it’s a permanent solution, which means you probably aren’t going to have to replace it later on. With all other tooth replacement alternatives, you will eventually have to repair or replace them. Dentures only last up to a decade at the longest, and bridges and flippers can wear out even more quickly.
Each year you complete without getting your implant replaced makes the cost per year for that solution decrease, and you likely won’t be resetting that clock, as you will need to do if you choose a tooth implant alternative. You may have to replace the artificial tooth that covers your implant, but this cost is fairly minimal compared to the price of dentures and bridge, especially since you can usually replace them individually, although some implants can support multiple teeth.
No Food Restrictions
When patients get dentures, they’re given a long list of foods they have to avoid, including nuts, popcorn, corn on the cob, apples, and even tough meat. These restrictions are necessary to avoid placing undue stress on both the dentures and the gums. With tooth implants, though, you won’t have any restrictions at all because your implant is as strong as your natural teeth, and doesn’t add any pressure to your gums once you heal from the initial surgery.
Certainly, we recommend you stay away from sugar as much as possible, and limit the consumption of hard foods like candy and ice, but we recommend those restrictions for everyone, whether they have an implant or not. As such, getting an implant means returning your food recommendations to what they have always been. So, go ahead and have that popcorn or thick-cut steak. Your teeth won’t mind at all as long as you brush and floss as usual afterward.
Good Candidates for Tooth Implants
Most people who are missing teeth are or can become good candidates for dental implants. While the ideal candidate is in excellent overall health, with the adequate jawbone and present gum disease, these conditions can all be corrected to the point where you can safely get tooth implants. If you have a health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension, we’ll require your doctor’s approval before we perform surgery, but well-managed conditions are often compatible with implants.
As mentioned above, we can build up the bone in your jaw if it has degraded due to your missing tooth. While this adds another step to the implant process, it makes it more likely that your jaw will support the implant and prevent complications that may require an additional surgical procedure later on. Gum disease is also treatable through procedures like scaling and root planning but will need to be cured before the implant is placed.
The best way to know if you’re a candidate for a dental implant is to schedule a free consultation with our office. At this initial appointment, we’ll discuss your treatment goals, examine your teeth, and determine the best course of action for your needs. In many cases, we’ll recommend a tooth implant as the most appropriate solution for your tooth loss, but sometimes, we’ll suggest a different option based on our assessment of your situation and goals.
Once the implant procedure is fully completed, and your permanent crown (artificial tooth) has been secured to the implant, you’ll only be expected to take care of your implant just as you do your natural teeth. We may ask you to come in a few weeks later to ensure your crown isn’t interfering with your bite or causing any kind of irritation, but other than that, you can usually maintain your regular dental visits with us or your dentist.
There should be no need to see your dentist more than twice a year once you’re fully healed from the surgical procedure and have received your permanent crown. However, if you notice any unusual movement of your crown or it becomes damaged in some way, you should book an appointment as soon as possible to have your implant examined. Often, the implant is still perfectly fine, even if the crown needs to be repaired or replaced.
Be aware that if you don’t brush and floss your tooth implant, it will react just like your normal tooth. Of course, it won’t get a cavity, but bacteria will form a pocket between your crown and the surrounding gums, causing the bone to deteriorate, and potentially, the implant to loosen and fall out. At that point, you’ll have to start the process all over again, from treating your gums, to building up bone, to the surgical procedure itself.
The next step toward determining if tooth implants are worth the investment in time and money is to schedule a consultation with our office. From there, we’ll develop a treatment plan that will detail how we can meet your goals and restore the smile you deserve. Contact Dr. Steven C. Hewett in Champions Gate, FL to book your free initial consultation today.