People are living longer than ever, and while regular brushing, flossing, and checkups allow many of us to maintain our natural smiles forever, sometimes our teeth just can’t keep up. If you’ve lost a tooth (or a few teeth) due to injury or disease, dental implants can rejuvenate your smile and your oral health.
An implant is a synthetic tooth root in the shape of a post that is surgically placed into the jawbone. The “root” is usually made of titanium — the same material used in many hip and knee replacements, and a metal that is highly compatible with human bone. A replacement tooth is then fixed to the post and can be either permanent or removable. Permanent teeth are more stable and feel more like natural teeth.
The ideal candidate for dental implants is a non-smoker who has good oral health, including a sufficient amount of bone in the jaw and healthy gums with no sign of gum disease.
Implants are versatile. If you are only missing one tooth, one implant plus one replacement tooth will do the trick. If you are missing several teeth in a row, a few strategically placed implants can support a permanent bridge. Similarly, if you have lost all of your teeth, a full bridge or full denture can be permanently fixed in your mouth with just a few implants.
Conventional bridges and dentures are not fixed to the bone and can therefore be unstable, making it difficult to eat or smile with confidence. Implants not only look more natural, but they also feel and act more like normal teeth. They also have a stronger biting force. And because they don’t directly rely on neighboring teeth for support, implants don’t compromise the health of your natural teeth. In fact, a bridge is only expected to last seven to ten years, even less with a root canal, whereas implants will typically last a lifetime.
Think of your replacement teeth as natural teeth. They require the same daily brushing and flossing and the same number of regular checkups. Just like your natural teeth, the better you take care of your replacements, the longer they will last.