Dental implants are one of the most common types of tooth replacements in dentistry. Their popularity owes a lot to the efficiency of the procedure and the lifetime benefits provided by high-quality implants. In fact, over 3 million people have dental implants in the US alone, with the number rising by 500 000 every year.
But what are dental implants, and why have they been such a helpful procedure for millions of people?
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is known as prosthesis — an artificial device designed to replace a missing part of the body. An implant isn’t a prosthetic tooth, however. Instead, it’s a small titanium structure that a dentist fixes onto the jaw. Different types of fixtures can be attached on top of the implant, depending on the gap size.
Dentists use these fixtures to fill the gaps left by missing teeth and restore the feeling of a complete row to patients. The four most widely used implants include:
- Single crown (cap)
- Fixed bridge
- Partial denture
- Full denture
As prosthesis, a dental implant can restore the feeling of a natural tooth when it leaves a gap. The fittings look like natural teeth too, which helps support proper jaw function. Natural-looking implants can also restore the confidence that comes with a full smile.
Dental implants remain one of the most reliable ways to replace missing teeth. Even as the technology used continues to evolve, today’s implants continue to be an effective solution in the hands of highly trained dentists.
Who could benefit from dental implants?
Dental implants could be an excellent option for anyone who would like to replace missing teeth. The versatility of the fixtures themselves allows dentists to fill gaps of varying sizes. And versatility is vital to how implants are made, as people can lose teeth for many reasons.
One of the most significant benefits of dental implants is that they can restore chewing capacity. A complete set of teeth breaks down food more comfortably. Implants feel like natural teeth, meaning they should be brushed and flossed just as regularly.
Dental implants can also help prevent bone loss. The jaw bone needs constant stimulation from a tooth’s root to grow. Since implants are fixed directly onto the bone, they provide the jaw with much of the support it needs to remain healthy.
Many patients look to dental implants for the aesthetic too. Tooth replacements have helped many people restore lost confidence and find their smiles again. Suppose you’re interested in learning about that side of dental implants. In that case, we speak more about their role in regaining confidence here.
How are they applied?
Dental implants have three parts: an implant, an abutment and a top fixture.
The implant is the small titanium fixture that a dentist inserts into the jaw. The abutment is a structure that attaches the top of the titanium root. All three of these parts combine to form the prosthesis – and each one has its benefits for patients.
Unlike dentures, dental implants are fixed to the jaw. That placement protects the bone by replicating the functions of a tooth’s root and stimulating healthy growth. The fixture also keeps the implant secure, minimising unwanted friction for a comfortable fit.
Dentists use a combination of those three parts to replace one or multiple missing teeth. Dental implants can fill a continuous gap or several individual ones, but certified dentists are trained to use gentle techniques either way. These techniques are paired with antibiotics and post-operative care to minimise discomfort.
High-quality implants can feel like you never lost a tooth.
How long do dental implants last?
Good dental implants can last for a lifetime if you care for them the right way. Part of the reason the implant is made of titanium and fixed to the bone is to make it highly durable. Durability allows the implants to perform regular tasks like chewing and grinding every day.
Dental implants are also bio-compatible. Dental labs make them using non-toxic materials that the body won’t fight or reject. Bio-compatibility minimises irritation around prosthesis and helps maintain mouth health while the implant is in place.
Despite being artificial, implants need much of the same care as regular teeth. Dentists recommend regular brushing and flossing. They may add guidelines based on their assessment of each patient, which is why the best advice usually comes from one-on-one care.
Dental implants can usually accommodate anyone looking for a tooth replacement. Since individual needs will determine the best approach, a professional is essential to finding the best solution. If you’re considering one, the first step should be to consult with your local dentistry or another healthcare professional in the field.