You might already know that implant-based restorations are the gold standard of missing teeth replacement and have become increasingly popular over the last decade or so, but what are dental implants exactly? Let’s find out…
A dental implant allows dental professionals to mount a fabricated tooth or teeth directly onto titanium metal posts that have been surgically placed (implanted) directly into the jawbone.
It’s a relatively lengthy process that can take anywhere between 4-9 months to complete. So the question is, why would a patient put themselves through what is in essence a costly and time-consuming process when they can opt for a traditional dental bridge or denture which is fitted within a couple of visits?
To answer this, it would be useful to know how dental implants work?
Let’s start with a natural tooth… If you break the component parts of a tooth down it consists of the dental crown (the part of the tooth that we can see) and the tooth root. The root makes up about two-thirds of the whole tooth and serves as the lifeline of the tooth. Not only does it contain vital nerves and nutrients important for function and tooth health, but a tooth root also helps to anchor the tooth in position.
Take the tooth root away, however – e.g. when a tooth is extracted or lost – and the bone tissue that previously supported the tooth is no longer needed.
As a result and over time, the now redundant bone tissue gets reabsorbed back into the body which, in turn, causes jaw bone shrinkage. This is why many people living with tooth loss often appear older than their years.
Did you know that a person typically loses around 25% of their entire jaw bone structure within the first year after tooth loss?
This, in turn, causes sagging skin, facial wrinkles and lines, resulting in an aged appearance.
A dental implant is essentially a fake tooth root. So while it doesn’t contain blood vessels or nerves, it does the important job of restimulating the remaining bone tissue.
Using clever skills of mimicry, once a dental implant is placed into the missing tooth site, it tricks the remaining tissue into thinking that it is a new tooth root. As a result, the remaining bone tissue fuses with the implant and together, they work to support the implant (just as it would a natural tooth root) by fusing with it. This is a process known as osseointegration.
Moreover, because the remaining bone tissue is now restimulated, it won’t get absorbed back into the body so no more problematic bone loss!
So now you know the answer to the question, “what are dental implants?” Why are more and more people opting for implant-based restorations?
In essence, a dental implant is the nearest thing to a natural tooth that modern dentistry allows. It remains permanently attached in the mouth and unlike a denture, isn’t prone to movement or slippage when you eat, chew, or speak. Caring for a dental implant is both hassle-free and easy since it is brushed and flossed just like your natural teeth. But perhaps the biggest advantage of a dental implant is longevity.
Whereas a denture has a shelf life of somewhere between 5-10 years before it needs replacing, a dental implant remains part of your smile for as long as you care for it. That could be several decades or more and could (in theory) last you for the rest of your life.
Ultimately, while dental implant restorations may seem expensive initially, the benefits and quality of life that they bring can far outweigh that of any other form of missing tooth replacement.
If you would like to know more about what dental implants are or you’re considering implant-based restorations to restore your smile, then come and talk to Dr Melba Akinwande and her team at Chesterfield Dentistry. Our personalized one-to-one care, gentle nature and our budget-fitting financing options mean that patients can experience an affordable way to get the life-changing dental care they need.
Call us on 314 786-3360 or visit our website and book a free implant consultation today and see just how we can help.