A lot of the time, dentistry seems like a relatively static field. This is probably because your dentist’s general dental checkup routine probably hasn’t changed much at all.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. Dentists are constantly training and learning about newer and better ways to solve dental problems with the most minimal impact possible on your mouth.
One of the newer techniques that we at Mint Dental Alaska are quite excited about is the dental implant. If you’ve considered bridges, dentures, or other restorative procedures you should take a moment to consider implants first.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a type of tooth prosthetics for patients who are missing teeth, but their attachment procedure is very different from that of earlier dental procedure types. This is because dental implants start with a small titanium post being surgically placed in the jawbone.
Titanium has a unique quality that allows it to bond with the bone, created a solid, stable, and long-term foundation for replacement teeth.
Dental implants have become the most popular and most recommended type of tooth prosthetic in recent years, and it’s all because of the special way the false tooth is attached. Dental implants replace missing teeth in the most organic way possible, resulting in a fully functional and barely distinguishable permanent prosthetic.
The Dental Implant Procedure
As we said before, the key to dental implants lies in a tiny piece of titanium that the dentist embeds in your jawbone. Titanium is a special type of metal that has the ability to fuse to bone, and the discovery of this property has revolutionized the fields of medicine and dentistry alike.
During your first visit to the dentist these titanium posts will be placed. The metal eventually integrates with the body but while it does it is normal to wear a temporary prothesis to help protect the exposed area and prevent the appearance of a missing tooth.
Once the implanted titanium metal has healed it can act basically the same as a tooth root. The healing process can take up to six months to finish, but once it does an “abutment”, can be fitted over the titanium. The dental crown, bridge or denture will attach to this abutment, seamlessly hiding the stub and creating a beautiful and functional result.
The entire procedure will normally stretch out over six to eight months. There should not be much interruption in your daily life though, as temporary prosthetics are normally able to be worn during the healing process.
Benefits of Dental Implants vs Dentures or Bridges
So, you might be wondering, why dental implants? Dentures and dental bridges have been around for a longer time, and they work reasonably well. Why choose a newer, more expensive technique when the older ones are still functional? One of the reasons this procedure was developed was the drawbacks of other dental techniques.
Overall Oral Health
The most important reason to choose dental implants is that they are a healthier option for the mouth as a whole. Once the implant has fused with the bone it acts very similarly to the roots of your normal teeth.
The most invasive part of the dental implant installation process is the attachment of the titanium rod to the jawbone, whereas with dental bridges, the nearby healthy teeth need to be shaved down to accommodate for a bridge. With crowns, you are simply “covering up” a tooth that was damaged initially.
While neither procedure has direct impact on a patient’s oral health, dentists still lean toward the more organic, less harmful treatment now that its available. Especially at younger ages one can never be sure what unexpected future effects could result from willfully damaging a tooth.
Dental implants are also uniquely versatile in the ability to treat a wide variety of dental problems. Implants are helpful in both single tooth and multiple missing teeth situations.
When you are missing a single tooth, or the tooth and root are severely damaged, using an implant is a great solution to this problem. Not only will you not have any adjustments to the surrounding teeth this way, but it is permanent.
Dentures, veneers, and bridges all have a shelf life of 5-10 years. Once an implant has been successfully placed it will likely last the remainder of your life. For patients in their 30s, 40s, and 50s this could save them several procedures in the long term.
Implants are also a good option if you are missing multiple teeth especially in a row. Both dentures and bridges tend to wear down and fit worse over the years, implants stay exactly where they heal. This leads more confidence and comfort with chewing and prevents slurring of your speech.
Fit and Performance of Implants
Not only is a finished implant slimmer than a denture, but they have many performance benefits. We mentioned the fact that because of the fit they will not affect your speech, chewing, or food selections. They also should prevent the rubbing and sore spots that are a result of a poor fitting denture.
Keep in mind that these are only general guidelines. Not everyone’s mouth may be suited for every treatment possibility, and a professional evaluation is the only thing that can reveal the hidden details that can prohibit one of these choices.
To read the complete guide to dental implants you can visit the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.
Cost of Dental Implants
Because Dental Implants are considered a surgical procedure, they are more expensive than most other dental solutions. In fact, we question the quality any office that offers inexpensive implants due to the expertise and experience that goes into he procedure.
You should also consider the long-term cost of some other procedures if you have an option. A forty-year-old who needs a dental bridge may need to have that piece replaced 3 or 4 times in his or her remaining years. With one dental implant procedure they could be set for life. While the up-front cost will be more, the long-term cost and comfort might be worth it.
Most insurance companies consider implants a cosmetic procedure and so they will not cover a part of the cost. During your consultation we will cover other options you may have to finance this procedure.
Dental Implant Questions?
While this guide covered many of the common questions surrounding implants, we realize every situation and mouth is different.
If you’re ever looking for a dental implant or prosthetic while in Anchorage, make sure to drop by Mint Dental Alaska. We’re always happy to welcome new patients! Call us today at (907) 646-8672.