If you are missing one or more teeth, you already know how big of an impact an incomplete smile can have on your day-to-day life. Missing teeth not only make it difficult to enjoy all of your favorite foods, but they can also affect the way you speak and change your appearance. Left untreated, missing teeth can also have a detrimental impact on the teeth neighboring the gap inside your mouth.
Thankfully, modern restorative dentistry offers several treatment options and techniques for replacing missing teeth and restoring the form and function of your smile. Among these tooth-replacement options, restoration with dental implants is the most popular, effective, and, perhaps, the most versatile option available.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a permanent tooth replacement option. It is a dental appliance that consists of three parts:
- The anchor – a screw-like object that implants in and osseointegrates with the jawbone to mimic a tooth’s natural root
- The abutment – a metal attachment that affixes to the anchor, connecting it to the tooth-replacement
- The dental crown – this visible portion of the tooth replacement is comprised of a porcelain or porcelain-fused-to-metal tooth replacement that cements permanently to the abutment. The crown looks, feels, and works just like a natural tooth.
3 Reasons You Might Need a Dental Implant
1. To Replace One or More Individual Missing Teeth
The most common reason for a dental implant is to replace one tooth or individual missing teeth (multiple missing teeth that are not in a row). A dental implant can be used to replace any tooth that a patient might be missing, including front teeth and molars in the back.
2. To Support a Dental Bridge
When a patient is missing multiple consecutive teeth, dental implants can be used to support an implant-supported dental bridge. This type of dental bridge consists of two dental crowns designed to be permanently affixed to two dental implants and a pontic (the bridge portion of the dental appliance that is made of a floating tooth or teeth) in between. In cases where the missing teeth are located at the end of a row of teeth, the implant-supported dental bridge will feature a cantilever design that attaches to an implant on one end only.
3. To Support a Permanent or Snap-On Denture
If a patient is missing all of their teeth, all of one row of teeth, or several teeth in a row, the most appropriate smile restoration option might be a full or partial denture. When dentures are paired with strategically placed dental implants, there are a couple of different options that patients can choose from. Rather than simply being fitted with a set of traditional, removable dentures, patients can choose to have their dentures permanently fixed to four or six dental implants. Another implant-supported denture option has a snap-on feature.
Why Replace a Missing Tooth With Dental Implants? (The Benefits of Dental Implants)
Dental implants, implant-supported dental bridges, and implant-supported dentures offer several benefits over alternative tooth-replacement options.
- Dental implants look completely natural. Dental crowns are designed to blend seamlessly with the patient’s neighboring teeth.
- They feel natural, too! Dental implants and implant-supported dental appliances never slip or slide around the mouth the way that traditional dentures can. They feel completely natural when patients use them to chew or speak.
- Dental implants provide vital stimulation to the jawbone. When you bite down on a natural tooth, its root puts pressure on and stimulates the jawbone. This triggers the bone to grow and remain strong. Without an implant or an implant-supported tooth-replacement option, the jawbone receives no stimulation and will deteriorate over time. As a result, a person’s facial bone structure changes. Additionally, neighboring teeth will eventually shift and become compromised as well.
- Dental implants are long-lasting. With proper care, dental implants last a lifetime and dental crowns can last up to 15 years or longer.
- Dental implants are easy to care for.
What to Expect When Getting a Dental Implant
The process of getting a dental implant is a little different for each patient, depending on their existing bone structure, the number of teeth they are replacing, and the type of tooth-replacement option they choose.
Depending on the patient’s bone structure, mass, and density, the process might begin with an initial bone grafting procedure performed in our office with local anesthesia. A recovery and bone growth process then follows. Once enough jawbone is present to securely support a dental implant, the implant can be placed. This procedure also takes place in our office with the patient fully numbed using local anesthetics.
Following implant placement, a period of healing and osseointegration takes place. This can range from a month to several months, depending on the patient. Once fully healed, we complete the process by placing a permanent dental crown on the dental implant.
Are Dental Implants Right for Me? Schedule a Smile Restoration Consultation Today
Dental implants are a wonderful option for replacing one or more missing teeth or supporting another permanent tooth replacement dental appliance. That being said, they are not necessarily the right choice for everyone. To learn more about dental implants or to find out if they are right for you, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Andrew Bock at Northern Colorado Implant and Prosthetic Dentistry. We can examine your teeth and gums, talk with you about your smile goals, and provide you with a personalized treatment plan designed to meet your individual needs.