Don’t let missing teeth limit your life. You know that your confidence about your teeth and smile can affect how you feel about yourself, both personally and professionally.
If you are missing one or more teeth and would like to restore your ability to smile, speak and eat with comfort and confidence, then dental implants may be right for you. Perhaps you hide your smile because of spaces from missing teeth. Maybe your dentures don’t fit securely and comfortably. Perhaps you have difficulty chewing food because of missing teeth. If any of these situations keep you from feeling good about yourself and your smile, then dental implants may be the solution for you.
When I restored my first dental implants in 1988, dental implants were considered experimental without a long track record. Now dental implants are considered the treatment of choice in replacing a missing tooth in most instances. Dental implants have been shown to out -perform fixed bridges and partial dentures over the long term. A 2003 study showed a 10-year success rate of dental implants at 97 percent versus a 10-year success rate of fixed bridges at only 47 percent.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that fuses to the jawbone replacing a missing tooth root. Dental implants are made out of titanium. This metal has a unique ability of fusing to bone. A fused dental implant is extremely strong, stable and successful. Dental implants can be used to replace individual teeth or used as attachments to hold dentures. Dental implants can be so natural looking and feeling that implant recipients quickly become unaware that they ever lost a tooth.
Advantage of dental implants
Maintain the jawbone:
One of the worst things about losing a tooth is the accompanying bone loss. The jawbone supports the teeth and the teeth maintain the height and integrity of the bone. Once a tooth is lost the bone continues to deteriorate over time. A dental implant prevents further bone loss and gum recession.
Increased denture retention, stability and comfort:
Dentures attach to the boney ridge on the jaw and work well when the ridge is high and large. But over time the ridge recedes becoming flatter and flatter. Finally, no ridge height is left to which the denture can attach. The denture becomes loose and uncomfortable. Dental implants maintain the boney ridge while giving a denture a strong attachment.
A few years ago, I treated a 70-year-old woman who had been wearing dentures for over 30 years. Over the last five years, she had been to numerous dentists and had numerous dentures made. She complained they were all ill-fitting. Her original set of dentures had fit well for 20 years. She said that her old original dentist knew how to make dentures back in the day and now these young whippersnappers don’t know what they are doing. I showed her that actually her boney ridge had worn down over time. There was no ridge left for her dentures to grasp. Four implants were placed and new dentures were fabricated that attached to the implants. With great denture retention, she was happily eating and socializing with her friends again.
With an individual tooth replacement, a dental implant supports and strengthens the bone around the adjacent teeth. A dental implant also saves the integrity of the adjacent teeth. With a fixed bridge, the adjacent teeth are ground down and have to accept the additional forces on the missing tooth. Often times, these teeth will decay, need root canal therapy and /or fracture and then eventually need to be extracted. With a dental implant, these teeth can be left in their natural state.
The aesthetic look of a dental implant is similar to a natural tooth; it emerges naturally out of the gum. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. No one would ever know that a tooth has been replaced.
Several years ago, I saw a 23-year-old SSU coed who had two genetically missing upper laterals, the teeth on either side of the front two teeth. These are the most common teeth to be genetically missing after the wisdom teeth. She had been in and out of braces since age 12 and was wearing a retainer with two fake denture teeth attached for the missing teeth. She had been embarrassed by her smile since an early age and sadly had learned to smile with her mouth closed. Two dental implants were placed and restored in time for her SSU graduation. She was smiling beautifully for graduation pictures. No one could tell her smile had implants. The aesthetic look of a dental implant is similar to a natural tooth; it emerges naturally out of the gum. So her dental implants looked and felt like her own teeth. She now smiles with a huge grin, which gives her a positive, confident first impression.
How reliable are dental implants?
The success rate of dental implants is highly predictable. They have success rate of over 95 percent. In fact, with effective oral care at home and regular dental visits, dental implants have lasted over 25 years and may last a lifetime.
Who is a candidate for dental implants?
The best candidate for dental implants is a non-smoker in good general health with healthy gum tissues. Dental implants in smokers and patient’s with certain medical conditions can be successful, but healing time can take longer. Also adequate bone is necessary to support an implant. Often a three-dimensional scan, called a Cone Beam CT, is necessary to evaluate the amount and density of bone available for the dental implant.
The most important thing for long-term success is regular continuing dental care visits. Just like teeth, implants must be checked and cleaned professional to enhance longevity.
Dental implants are a great treatment option! Ask your dentist about them if you have any missing teeth.
Enjoy Life and Keep Smiling!
George Malkemus has had a Family and Cosmetic Dental Practice in Rohnert Park at 2 Padre Parkway, Suite 200. Call 585-8595, or email info@ malkemusdds.com. Visit Dr. Malkemus’ Web site at http://www.malkemusdds.com