What makes dental implants the best tooth replacement option?
Although dental implants and prosthodontics sounds like a modern field of dentistry, it has actually existed for centuries! Even as far back as 2,000 BC, people in ancient China were replacing missing teeth with carved bamboo pegs. It’s amazing when you think about it! As time passed and technology improved, we developed new treatment techniques and better materials; in fact, we’re always improving dentistry in this way!
Not too long ago, bridges and dentures were the go-to prosthodontic treatments. Today, however, implants are much more popular. In the US alone, more than 3 million people have dental implants, with dentists placing an estimated 500,000 implants every year. It’s clear that dental implants are more popular than ever, but what’s driving this increased demand for them? To help you understand why implants are considered the best treatment for missing teeth, we’ve explained 7 reasons they’ve become so popular.
What are dental implants?
Before you can understand why dental implants are so popular, you need to fully understand what they are. Implants are a tooth replacement option that consists of a titanium metal rod that’s embedded directly into your jawbone like a tooth root and secured with a restoration that replaces one or more teeth. The placement process involves a few surgical procedures and takes several months to heal from, but implants provide a lifetime of benefits that make the process worth it for many people.
1. Dental implants look natural.
One of the pros of dental implants is that they look so natural, no one will realize you have them. This is in part because every aspect of your treatment is designed just for you, including the appearance of the dental restoration that’s placed on top of the implant itself. You’ll get to choose the size, shape, and shade of your replacement tooth or teeth to help ensure they blend in with your existing teeth and to restore your beautiful, natural smile.
2. They’re incredibly versatile.
When you get dental implants, your personalized treatment also includes the type of restoration you choose to place on them. A single tooth implant can be secured with a dental crown to replace one tooth, while multiple implants can be secured with a bridge or partial dentures. You can even replace a full arch or all the teeth in your mouth with implant-supported dentures. This gives dental implants unmatched levels of flexibility, allowing them to meet your unique treatment needs.
3. They’re the strongest option out there.
Since dental implants are embedded in your jawbone to mimic natural tooth roots, they function like natural teeth. This means dental implants are incredibly strong—much stronger than alternatives. Whether your implant is secured with a crown or implant-supported dentures, it will be strong and secure enough to allow you to eat all your favorite foods, including tough and crunchy ones.
You should always treat restorations with the same care you’d give your natural teeth, so don’t crunch down on nuts to crack them open or use your restoration to open packaging, but foods like corn on the cob, steak, and crunchy toffee are all on the menu with dental implants. Your implants will give you back the full strength and function of your missing teeth, setting them apart from other restorations in the best way possible.
4. Dental implants feel just as natural as they look.
Implants mimic more than the strength and function of your natural teeth; they also feel incredibly natural. Tooth replacement options like traditional dentures might slip around, especially as they begin to fit more loosely, but dental implants don’t have this issue. They’re rooted in place just like natural teeth and are designed specifically to fit the curves and spaces of your mouth. Their natural feel and function make them the closest option out there to restoring the teeth you lost.
5. They preserve jawbone structure.
Dental implants go beyond simply mimicking the feel of your natural teeth by actively carrying out the important functions of your natural tooth roots. One of your tooth roots’ important functions is to stimulate the jawbone around them every time you chew. This constant stimulation tells your body that it should continue sending nutrients to your jawbone, keeping it strong and healthy.
When you lose a tooth and its root, you lose this stimulation in the surrounding area, which causes your body to begin reabsorbing the bone there. This leads to a decrease in bone density in the area, weakening the bone and eventually leading to a visible change in the shape of your jaw. By continuing to provide this stimulation to your jaw, dental implants protect the bone’s density, shape, and overall health, and by extension, they also protect any surrounding teeth from the effects of bone loss in your jaw. It’s a huge benefit that only dental implants can provide!
6. Dental implants are easy to maintain.
Caring for your dental implants is about as simple—and just as important—as caring for your natural teeth. They generally don’t need anything extra, just a regular oral hygiene routine! This means brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash daily by following the directions on the bottle.
Dental implants can’t get cavities, but they are still vulnerable to decay in the form of gum disease, which occurs when bacteria make it underneath your gums and begin attacking your implants and the surrounding bone. Thankfully, this issue is easily preventable with an adequate daily oral hygiene routine, so it’s important to make it a permanent fixture of your day!
You’ll also need to visit your dentist every six months to check on the health of your teeth and implants as well as to receive preventive cleanings that will help keep you healthy in the long term. All of this is standard dental care whether you have implants or not, but you’ll have to make sure to commit yourself to it so your implants can last a lifetime.
7. They keep getting more affordable.
With the cutting-edge technology involved in the creation and placement of dental implants and the range of benefits that only they can offer, it may seem like a foregone conclusion that they’re expensive. You might be surprised to learn how affordable they are, especially when you take into account the benefits implants provide and the long-term costs most alternatives require. When you take good care of them, dental implants last a lifetime. Due to normal wear and tear over time, however, alternative treatments typically need to be replaced sooner or later. Bridges can last around 15 years with great care, but traditional dentures generally need to be replaced every five to eight years and need yearly adjustments to ensure they continue fitting well. These factors add costs throughout the life of other restorations beyond what you pay at their placement.
Since they’re designed to last a lifetime, implants don’t have these added costs. Dental implants provide you with lifelong benefits, from how natural they feel and look to their easy maintenance and their ability to protect the health of your jaw and surrounding teeth in ways that other treatments simply can’t. These benefits add value that really can’t be calculated.
That said, since each person’s treatment is customized for them, factors like how many teeth you need to replace, where they are in your mouth, and what type of restoration you choose to place on your implants will all impact the final cost of treatment. This makes it hard to predict the exact cost of your dental implants without a consultation. Once you visit us, however, we’ll be able to estimate how much your treatment will cost as well as how much of that cost your insurance is likely to cover.
Experience the benefits of dental implants yourself.
Once you begin looking into dental implants, it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. Their many benefits allow them to restore your confidence in the function and beauty of your smile and improve your quality of life for a lifetime, making them worth the effort for most people. If you’d like to learn more from your Saint Joseph dentist about dental implants and whether they’re right for you, feel free to schedule a consultation with us at any time!