Are Dental Implants Right For You?
Written by Dr. DeAngelis
When George Washington lost his teeth in his early twenties, he was forced to wear painful, unsightly dentures made of ivory, lead, and even cow and horse teeth. Fortunately for us, dental technology has advanced dramatically since Washington’s time.
Whether you’ve been struggling with dental health issues since your twenties like Washington, or you’ve only recently started losing your teeth, it’s important to understand your tooth replacement options. Bridges and dentures are both popular options for patients seeking a relatively simple answer to tooth loss, but if you’re looking for a permanent solution, dental implants offer an exciting alternative.
Unlike other dental restoration procedures, dental implants are individually inserted into your mouth to replace your missing teeth. They look and feel almost as natural as your original teeth, and with proper care, they can last a lifetime. Here’s what you need to know to determine whether dental implants are right for you.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth that looks exactly like (or even better than!) your real tooth. It’s made of three individual pieces that fit together to replace your missing tooth: the screw, abutment, and crown.
The implant itself is a titanium screw placed deep into your gum tissue. Over the span of a few months, this screw fuses permanently with your jawbone to replace missing tooth roots. This creates a sturdy base that supports the other parts of the implant.
Once the titanium screw has enough time to fuse with the jawbone, an abutment is placed on the screw. This abutment serves as the connector between the screw and custom-made crown. The crown is the part of the dental implant that you can see and feel in your mouth. It looks and functions exactly like a real tooth.
Best of all, dental implants can be adapted to almost any tooth loss situation. They can be used to replace one individual tooth, a few teeth, or your entire mouth if necessary! By working with your dental implant specialist to evaluate the best solution for your oral needs, you can determine the best implant arrangement.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
More than 3 million people in the U.S have experienced a smile transformation using dental implants. The benefits that dental implants offer are unprecedented and rarely achieved with other forms of dental reconstruction.
Implants Don’t Need to Be Replaced
Most tooth replacement solutions like bridges, dentures, and veneers must be replaced every 10-15 years due to damage or wear and tear. Dental implants, on the other hand, can last the rest of your life with proper care. The titanium implants fuse with your jawbone to create a permanent base, and the durable crowns can endure any normal eating, talking, and biting activity.
Implants Look and Feel Like Your Real Teeth
Your implants will look and feel so real that you might forget they’re not! In addition to reclaiming an attractive, confident smile, you’ll once again be able to chew and talk without difficulty or hesitation. You’ll look and feel like a younger version of yourself with dental implants.
Implants Protect the Structure of Your Face
Most patients don’t realize that dental implants improve more than their smiles and ability to eat steak. Dental implants also make it possible to protect your jawbones from sinking and drooping inward.
When teeth fall out, your jawbone no longer receives the stimulation it needs to remain strong. Over time, an unstimulated jawbone becomes too weak and damaged to maintain the healthy structure of your cheeks and jaw. This causes the face to sink inward and “collapse”. Implants prevent this problem from occurring by keeping your jawbone strong and durable.
Implants Restore Your Confidence
When all of these benefits combine, you’ll rediscover a sense of confidence you thought you had lost forever. You’ll be able to smile without hesitation, choose your favorite foods without any difficulty, and embrace a truly beautiful smile.
Are You a Good Candidate for Implants?
Identifying the benefits of dental implants is the first step. Now it’s time to make sure you meet the qualifications of a good dental implant candidate. Since dental implants require the placement of titanium screws into your gums, the health of your gum tissue and jawbone may influence your ability to successfully undergo an implant procedure.
Check to confirm you meet these minimum qualifications and talk to your dentist about any concerns you have:
- You have at least one missing tooth
- Your jawbone is strong and thick enough to secure implants
- If your jawbone isn’t strong enough, you are eligible for bone graft surgery
- Your oral tissues are healthy
- If you have gum disease, you’re eligible for comprehensive periodontal treatment
- You don’t have a chronic illness that may compromise bone healing
- You want to improve your speaking and eating abilities
- You don’t use or smoke tobacco, or you’re willing to quit for your procedure
If you don’t meet the parameters outlined above, you may need additional dental work and healthcare before your dentist can initiate the implant process. This is why the dental implant procedure is often a team effort between you, your dentist, and your doctors. The healthier your mouth and body are before your implant procedure, the better the outcome!
Dental Implant Alternatives
Dental implants offer a cutting edge solution to tooth loss, but it’s not the right choice for all patients. You may not have the time and resources to undergo such a complex procedure, or your gum tissue may not be healthy enough to support implants. Whatever the reason, these dental implant alternatives can still restore your smile and help you live life to the fullest.
Dentures can be used to replace single teeth or the entire top or bottom row of your mouth. This type of dental device is made of a plastic base that replicates gum tissue and supports a full set of natural-looking teeth. Dentures are designed to stay in place by forming a seal with the gums.
When you receive dentures, you start with a temporary set used during the healing process after all remaining dead and damaged teeth have been extracted. This helps you maintain a normal smile while your gum tissue recovers from surgery. After 8 to 12 weeks, your set of permanent dentures can be inserted.
Implant-supported dentures offer a middle ground for patients who want a solution more advanced than standard dentures but not quite as complex as full implants. They are normal dentures attached to at least two implants installed in the jawbone itself. This is a viable option if you have enough bone to support implants and prefer to secure your dentures with the help of such implants.
Dental Implants in Carlsbad, CA
You’ve spent enough time coping with the burden of missing teeth. You deserve to eat your favorite foods and smile wide without fear or embarrassment. The experienced team at DeAngelis Family Dentistry is here to help patients throughout Harbor Point, Carlsbad Village, Bressi Ranch, La Costa, and South Ponto Beach achieve a beautiful new smile with the help of advanced dental restoration procedures.
Call DeAngelis Family Dentistry today to learn more and schedule a consultation. The DeAngelis staff has over 20 years of experience to give you compassionate, professional care when you need it most.