About 3 million people in the United States have dental implants, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, and about 500,000 Americans get dental implants each year. If you have lost one or more teeth, you might be considering dental implants as a cosmetic solution. Dental implants are a strong, functional, and attractive cosmetic solution to missing teeth.
Because of the way they look, feel, and function, dental implants are the closest thing you can get to your natural teeth. Today’s dental implants look and function so similarly to natural teeth that you may not even notice someone that has dental implants.
About Dental Implants
While dental implants are growing increasingly common, they have actually been around for centuries. The Mayans started implanting shells to replace missing teeth in about 600 CE. The first stone implants appeared in early Honduran culture in about 800 CE.
The dental implant composition and process known today was introduced about 30 years ago. Today’s dental implants use high-tech materials and procedures that create natural, strong, and attractive implants that look and feel like natural teeth.
The Dental Implant Process
Losing Your Teeth – Your teeth have nerves that function as roots to hold your tooth in place in the jawbone. When you lose a tooth, you also lose the tooth root, which will leave an empty space in your jawbone. Dental implants are like artificial replacements for the tooth roots you lost.
Installing the Implant – Dental implants are made of three main components – the implant, an abutment, and a crown. The abutment is a connecter that holds onto the implant and supports the crown. The crown is the tooth-shaped part you see. To fill the space where your missing teeth once were, your dentist will place the implant into your jaw, where bone tissue forms around the implant to hold it in place. They will then attach the crowns using an abutment, which acts as a connector to hold the crown in place. The final step in the process involves attaching the crowns to the implant.
Benefits of Dental Implants
There are several benefits to using dental implants over other tooth replacement options, such as bridges or dentures. Not only are these easy to care for, but they also stay in place and look and act like natural teeth.
Dental bridges are often seen as inconvenient to patients. Ill-fitting dental bridges can cause tooth decay in the tooth beneath the crown, and can weaken the supporting teeth over time. Dentures are a common tooth replacement option, but can can easily slip around and do not always look, feel, or function like natural teeth.
Taking Care of Your Dental Implants
Dental implants will last upwards of 25 years on an average basis. Factors like patient health, diet, and lifestyle will affect the lifespan of your dental implants. Proper care can help ensure that your dental implants will last a lifetime.
Practice good oral hygiene – Brush twice daily and floss your teeth once a day. Use interdental brushes, which are special brushes that you can slide between your implants to clean those hard-to-reach places.
Avoid certain foods – Do not chew on ice or hard candy, which may break the crown and damage the surrounding natural teeth.
Stay away from tobacco – Tobacco use can contribute to implant failure by weakening the bone structure that holds your implant in place.
Visit your dentist about once every six months – Your dentist will check to make sure your implant is in good condition during each cleaning.
For the best dental implant results, you should have healthy gums and enough bone tissue in your jaw to support the implants. If your jawbone is too thin or soft to act as an anchor for the root, a bone graft may help build enough bone to support a dental implant. A sinus lift procedure can help if there is not enough bone height in your upper jaw to support a dental implant. While dental implants are increasingly common, this approach to tooth replacement is not for everyone. A dentist with implant dentistry experience will be able to determine if dental implants are right for you.
Williams & Daily Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. Contact Williams & Daily at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.