There is often a lot of embarrassment associated with missing teeth. In the event that you lose several teeth, you may also find it difficult to chew your food properly. The traditional way to solve the problem is with removable false teeth, which means getting full or partial dentures. However, dentures can be uncomfortable do not work in every situation.
For instance, getting dentures is not a feasible solution when you are replacing a single missing tooth. In this case, dental implant surgery may offer you more flexibility and comfort, according to the American Dental Association.
A dental implant can help you replace your missing teeth. This is a foundational device embedded into your jawbone that functions as a synthetic tooth root. During installation, a crown designed to match the surrounding teeth may be affixed to it, if it is replacing a single tooth. Other dental methods may be used when multiple teeth are replaced. Below, you can learn more information about dental implants to help you decide if an implant is right for you.
What Dental Implants Are and How They Work
Dental implants are small titanium rods with screw-like grooves. They serve as permanent root structures for crowns and other materials your dentist can use to mimic your real teeth. The number of rods you need is determined by your oral surgeon. He or she makes the determination by assessing how many missing teeth you have and what other dental procedures you require.
After installation, the dental implants begin to fuse with the bone in your jaw. This process is known as osseointegration, and may take many months to complete. When osseointegration is complete, the implants permanently retain their positions, unlike dentures or real teeth which can easily slip and shift over time. Dental implants offer several advantages, including:
- Installation. Your surrounding healthy teeth do not need to be shaped or filed to install them, which is required when installing some other dental devices, like fixed bridges.
- Impact. They do not have a negative impact on surrounding teeth over time.
- Maintenance. When properly maintained, they can last throughout your life.
- Comfort. They feel and function like normal teeth due to permanent attachment to your jaw.
The installation of dental implants can also help you by preventing bone loss. Bone structure is naturally maintained by your teeth. When you lose teeth, the bone structure can erode over time. Therefore, replacing the teeth quickly is important for jaw health. Temporary solutions like dentures are not as effective at preventing bone loss as permanent implants.
The Dental Implant Surgery Process
To decide if dental implant surgery is right for you, you must learn about all aspects of the procedure. The surgery process takes multiple appointments. To begin, the dentist or oral surgeon must remove any remaining pieces of your damaged tooth. He or she must also make sure your jaw is ready for surgery. Bone grafts may be required to prepare it.
When a bone graft is performed, you must go home to recover from the procedure. After your jawbone completely heals, you then attend a second appointment. At the second appointment, your dentist installs the titanium implant posts. You must then wait several months for the posts to fuse with your jaw.
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Your dentist must also place abutments on each of the implant posts. This may be done at the initial titanium post installation appointment. However, if the implants are not initially stable, you must make a later appointment for abutment attachment. Then, your mouth needs time to heal again.
After the final healing stage, the dentist makes a mold of your mouth. He or she uses the mold to construct crowns or other synthetic teeth to attach to the implants. Once your synthetic teeth are ready, your dentist can install them at a final appointment.
Additional Benefits of Dental Implants
Helping you maintain your bone structure and having more convenience than dentures are not the only benefits of dental implants. If you are having difficulty eating, dental implants can also assist you by making chewing more comfortable.
You may also experience more reliability when chewing with dental implants, as opposed to dentures. Dentures can fall out, particularly when you attempt to chew hard or difficult foods. Dental implants are embedded in your jaw, allowing you to chew foods with the same confidence as when chewing with real teeth.
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Dental implants may also benefit you because they can restore your confidence. Without them, you may be embarrassed when smiling or have difficulty speaking clearly. Dentures somewhat alleviate those problems. However, they can also slip and slide, and potentially cause embarrassing social mishaps.
When you get dental implants, you can participate in social situations confidently without such issues. Therefore, you may experience a boost in self-esteem after dental implant surgery. Dental implants can also make socializing with loved ones more convenient because they are permanently attached. You do not have to remember to take them with you, as you must when using dentures.
Physical and Financial Eligibility for Dental Implants
If you are a healthy adult, it is likely you are physically eligible to undergo dental implant surgery. However, there are some conditions that may make dental implantation difficult or less successful. You must check with your dentist or oral surgeon to see if you can still have the procedure, if you suffer from one of those conditions. They include:
- Heart disease.
- A history of heavy smoking.
- Any diseases or disorders requiring you to have radiation therapy in your neck or head area.
Financial eligibility for dental implants is another concern. They can be quite expensive, especially since multiple appointments are required. Your dental insurance may cover the cost of dental implantation, but it is not guaranteed. Alternately, there may be stipulations placed on the coverage.
For example, the reason for your tooth loss may impact your eligibility for insurance coverage. If you have any doubt about your insurance eligibility, contact your insurance company and speak to your dentist. Make sure they agree on your level of dental implant coverage.
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