Dental implants are devices that replace the roots of missing teeth in your jaw. They are a basic feature used to support the application of crowns, bridges and dentures, and are usually implanted surgically into your jaw. Most of the time implants feel more natural, comfortable and secure than other methods for replacing teeth, like dentures for example.
Why Should I Replace My Teeth?
There are many reasons you should consider replacing any missing teeth in your jawbone. Some of them are cosmetic, and some are more health related – but all are just important. Some reasons are:
- Having a full set of teeth when you smile can do wonders to improve your confidence – and you don’t have to worry about people noticing your missing teeth.
- When you lose a tooth, the area of bone that used to hold it in place starts to dissolve, altering the shape of your jaw. Implants help to preserve the bone and keep your jaw set.
- Losing a tooth can affect how well you can chew, and this means you might suddenly be limited by what kinds of food you can eat. You might struggle, for example, to eat raw fruits and vegetable because they are more difficult to chew. This could lead to you simply avoiding these foods – as you may not consider, or want to blend, puree or juice your food. Some people who lose teeth end up poorly nourished because of this, and this affects your general health.
- Tooth loss can cause further dental issues. It affects the way you bite, which can in turn change the way your teeth come together. This leads to problems with the temporomandibular joint in your jaw.
- Tooth loss can lead to changes in speech – for example suddenly gaining a lisp. This can affect your self confidence.
But the good news is that there are many types of dental implant to chose from, and there is bound to be one that suits you. A few of the most popular types are:
- Root Form
The root form implant is the most common type of implant used today. It is crafted from titanium, and looks like a small cylinder or screw. Once the implant is planted into your jawbone, a metal cylinder (called an abutment) is attached to serve as a base for further work – e.g a crown, denture or bridge. The key to success in all implants is a process known as osseointegration. This basically means the way the jaw grows into and around the implant fitted. Titanium is a specialised material that the jawbone is able to accept as part of the body. This remarkable ability to be able to fuse with bone was discovered completely by accident in 1952. A scientist named Per-Ingvar Brånemark was conducting research into how bone healed after injury by using titanium chambers screwed into bones. One he had completed his experiment he tried to remove the chambers, only to find that they had fused with the bone. This caused him to do further research into titanium and bones, and sparked the idea for titanium implants. In 1965 the first root-form implants were placed in people. While many other types of implant are available from many other manufacturers, this is still the most popular method.
Studies performed into implants indicate that the surgical placement of a root-form implant is successful over 90% of the time. In the 10% where failures were experienced, the problems were usually within the first year after surgery. Once the first year has been passed, only 1% of implants fail. Since their endorsement in 1986 by the American Dental Association implants have become increasingly popular – with the number of patients tripling between 1986 and 1999. It is now estimated that over half a million implants are placed every year in the US.
Implants vs The Alternatives
Each case is unique – and it may be that implants might be the more expensive option than the alternatives for your particular problem. The usual alternatives for a full implant are to have a crown fitted or bridgework done. A basic implant plus crown can cost anywhere between 2 and 3 thousand GBP- and the fees many vary drastically depending on your condition. But while the upfront cost for implants can be a lot more than other types of restoration, the investment can pay off for you in the long run. You may not even need an implant for every missing tooth – your dentist will discuss your individual needs with you during consultation.
Some of the other benefits of implants are:
- Feel – Because the implants are securely embedded into your jawbone they feel much more natural and comfortable than dentures.
- Convenience – You don’t have to worry about denture glues, or the dentures slipping, sliding, falling out or clicking as you speak.
- Nutrition – Your ability to chew will be better with implants. Regular dentures can make chewing an almost impossible task for some foods – especially if the dentures aren’t a good fit. You may also find your sense of taste reduced with a normal denture – as the traditional upper dentures cover your palate as well as your teeth.
- Self Esteem – Because they are so much like your natural teeth – within days you will forget you even have them. You won’t have to worry about denture problems or people noticing that you have missing teeth. You will suffer no speech problems. your self esteem will skyrocket all because of a new, healthy smile.