Why Choose Dental Implants

by Rana Baroudi

Dr. Baroudi is a Board Certified Periodontist. She has successfully passed the American Board of Periodontology oral and written examinations covering all phases of periodontal disease, its treatment and dental implants. She is also an Associate Clinical Professor of Periodontology at UCSF where she enjoys teaching and lecturing on a bi-monthly basis.

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Maintaining dental health is crucial for overall wellness and self-assurance. When confronted with the loss of a tooth, it becomes imperative to seek a sustainable, comfortable, and visually appealing remedy. Dental implants offer such a solution, with numerous advantages over other tooth replacement alternatives. But what exactly are dental implants, and why might they be the best choice for you?

Dental implants are prosthetic tooth roots, typically crafted from titanium, that serve as a robust base for fixed or removable prosthetic teeth. They’re implanted directly into your jawbone, where they integrate over time, forming a resilient and sturdy foundation for artificial teeth.

Historical Evolution of Dental Implants

It’s fascinating to note that the concept of dental implants isn’t a modern one. Ancient civilizations, including the Mayans and Egyptians, experimented with inserting materials like shells and gold into jawbones to replace missing teeth. Fast forward to the 20th century, when, in the 1950s, an orthopedic surgeon discovered the unique property of titanium to fuse with bone, paving the way for the development of modern dental implants. Today, advances in technology, materials, and surgical procedures have made implants an increasingly reliable and preferred choice for tooth replacement.

First and foremost, dental implants are an unrivaled aesthetic solution. In comparison to dentures or bridges, dental implants are practically undetectable from natural teeth. They’re designed to mimic the appearance, feel, and function of your original teeth, providing a naturally appealing restoration that can significantly enhance your smile.

Secondly, dental implants deliver superior comfort and practicality. Since the implants are anchored to your jaw, they remain securely fixed without the requirement for adhesives. This solid foundation allows you to converse and eat comfortably without concerns about your prosthetic teeth shifting or producing unnatural sounds. Plus, unlike dentures, implants don’t need to be removed for cleaning or soaking overnight, adding to their convenience.

Another persuasive argument in favor of dental implants is their longevity. When maintained appropriately with regular dental visits, dental implants are designed to last a lifetime. Contrasting with other dental restorations that may need frequent replacement, implants prove to be a more economically sensible choice over time.

Furthermore, dental implants play an active role in maintaining your oral health. Tooth loss often results in a vacant space leading to bone loss in your jaw. Dental implants are the only dental restoration that both preserves and encourages natural bone growth, thereby preventing bone deterioration. This not only maintains the integrity of your jawbone but also prevents the sagging facial appearance often associated with bone loss.

One less acknowledged benefit of dental implants is their potential to safeguard the health of your remaining natural teeth. Traditional bridges, another popular solution for tooth loss, usually necessitate filing down adjacent teeth to anchor the bridge. Dental implants, however, require no alteration of surrounding healthy teeth, thus maintaining your overall dental health.

Comparing Dental Implants with Other Restorative Options

When considering tooth restoration options, it’s helpful to have a side-by-side comparison:

  • Dental Implants vs. Dentures: Unlike dentures, which are removable and might fit loosely over time, implants are permanent. Dentures might cause speech difficulties or can slip out while laughing or eating. Implants, being fixed, eliminate these problems.
  • Dental Implants vs. Bridges: Bridges require the reduction of neighboring teeth, while implants don’t. Also, cleaning under bridges can be challenging, whereas implants can be brushed and flossed just like natural teeth.

The Process of Getting Dental Implants

It’s beneficial to understand the dental implant procedure, which usually involves several stages:

  1. Consultation and Planning: The dentist will evaluate your oral health, take X-rays, and discuss your treatment options.
  2. Bone Grafting (if required): If there’s not enough bone for the implant, a bone graft procedure may be needed.
  3. Implant Placement: A titanium post is surgically placed into the jawbone.
  4. Healing and Integration: The jawbone will grow around the implant. This process, called osseointegration, may take a few months.
  5. Attachment of the Abutment: Once healed, an abutment is attached to the post, upon which the artificial tooth will be placed.
  6. Attachment of the Prosthetic Tooth: A custom-made crown, matched to your natural teeth, is fixed onto the abutment.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Dental Implants

While dental implants offer superior benefits, they often come at a higher upfront cost than other restorative options. However, it’s essential to consider the long-term benefits and cost savings. Factors influencing the cost include:

  • The Number of Implants Needed: Replacing several teeth will be more costly than just one.
  • Materials Used: Titanium, zirconia, and other materials may have different costs.
  • Additional Procedures: Bone grafts or sinus lifts, if required, add to the overall expense.
  • Geographical Location: Costs can vary based on the region or country.
  • Expertise of the Dental Professional: Renowned specialists might charge more than general dentists.

The Advanced Technology Behind Dental Implants

In modern dentistry, dental implants are the result of intensive research and technological advancement. Digital imaging, for instance, allows dental professionals to get a precise picture of your jaw and determine the ideal placement for the implant. Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) provides a 3D image of teeth, soft tissues, and nerves, ensuring the accurate placement of the implant. This precise approach minimizes risks and boosts the success rate of the implant procedure.

Furthermore, the materials used in dental implants have evolved. While titanium remains a favorite due to its biocompatibility, advancements like zirconia implants are gaining traction. Zirconia is white, making it even more indistinguishable from natural teeth, especially in cases where the traditional titanium might show through a thin gum.

In Summary

Considering dental implants as an investment in long-term oral health and quality of life can provide a fresh perspective on their cost.

Besides these benefits, dental implants can positively impact your lifestyle by boosting your self-esteem and confidence. The loss of a tooth can sometimes lead to a hesitance to smile or social anxiety due to self-consciousness about one’s appearance. Dental implants offer a restoration that not only functions like a natural tooth but also restores your smile, aiding you in regaining confidence in social settings.

Lastly, it’s crucial to recognize that dental implants, while versatile and effective, may not be the best fit for everyone. Ideal candidates for dental implants usually have good oral health, including sufficient jawbone to accommodate the implants and healthy gums devoid of periodontal disease. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult with a dental professional to ascertain if dental implants are indeed the optimal solution for you.

Opting for dental implants is more than just a choice about dental health; it’s a decision impacting your overall wellness and self-confidence. They offer an appealing, enduring, and functional solution to tooth loss, delivering an array of benefits that surpass those of other dental restoration options. When it comes to replacing missing teeth, dental implants indeed emerge as an exemplary option.