Statistics show that 69% of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth due to an accident, gum disease, a failed root canal, or tooth decay. Furthermore, by age 74, 26% of adults have lost all of their permanent teeth. Whether a tooth is lost as a result of decay, periodontal disease, or facial injury, it can be difficult to perform day-to-day functions. Many patients search for the correct replacement option that will restore the strength and durability of natural teeth and allow them to talk, laugh, and eat the foods they love with complete confidence.
Twenty years ago, the best option for patients with missing teeth was the use of a fixed bridge or removable denture. Unfortunately, fixed bridges and removable dentures are not the perfect solution to restoring function or aesthetics to the mouth and often bring a number of other problems. Today’s advances in medical devices and technology provide these patients with a healthier, long-lasting solution to replacing missing teeth. The best option for restoring natural aesthetics and function to the mouth is through dental implant placement.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a small, medical-grade titanium post that is inserted into the jaw and supports the full dental restoration. There are three parts to a dental implant:
- The implant itself, which fuses with the jaw bone to create a stable base for the new tooth.
- The crown, the porcelain restoration which is placed on top of the implant and looks and functions like a natural tooth.
- The abutment, which is inserted into the implant screw and holds together the implant and the crown.
Dental implants are the best option to achieve the goal of restored function and aesthetics, providing patients with a tooth so natural looking that they forget it’s a restoration. Unlike removable dentures which rest on the gum line or fixed bridges that use adjacent teeth, dental implants are long-term replacements that your oral and maxillofacial surgeon surgically places in the jaw bone.
What are the benefits of replacing a missing tooth with dental implants?
Patients who undergo dental implant therapy find that the restoration offers a variety of benefits not offered by other forms of dental restoration, such as fixed bridges and removable stay-plates and dentures. Dental implants provide the following benefits:
- Maintain the health of the adjacent teeth: When dental implants are placed, there is no need to grind down or damage adjacent teeth to cement a bridge. Dental implants also don’t require the strength of adjacent teeth to carry their burden, as they fully support the new crown where the tooth was missing. In addition, dental implants can be brushed and flossed like natural teeth, making it easier to maintain the overall health of the mouth and avoid tooth decay or periodontal disease.
- Increased stability: Dental implants are made with medical-grade titanium, which fuses with the jaw bone during the healing period. This fusion creates the most stable restoration available and helps to ensure that the dental implant acts just like a natural tooth. Patients with dental implants have no trouble eating, speaking, and enunciating properly.
- Enhanced aesthetics: While many restoration options emulate the look of natural teeth, dental implant crowns are replicated to fit into each patient’s mouth uniquely, so that the restoration looks just like the original, healthy tooth. Patients with dental implants can smile with ease, knowing that their replacement tooth looks just like their natural, healthy teeth.
- Decreased bone loss: When a tooth is missing from the mouth for a period of time, the jaw bone beneath the gums can begin to deteriorate. When dental implants are placed, the jaw bone fuses with the implant screw and maintains its natural, healthy growth and development.
Are dental implants the right solution for me?
If you are missing a tooth or need to have a tooth removed, dental implants are the best option for replacement. During your initial consultation, Dr. Eric Claussen will review your medical history and x-rays and perform a thorough oral examination to determine if you are a candidate for a dental implant. If the bone in your jaw is thin, you may need an additional procedure, called bone grafting, to build up the bone so that there is proper bone height and width present for the dental implant screw.
During your first procedure, the implant screw will be placed and you will need to wait a few weeks for the surgical site to heal and the implant screw to fuse with the jaw bone. After healing, when the implant is securely anchored in the bone, an abutment is attached to the implant. This functions as the core of the replacement tooth. The abutment can be adjusted and shaped to allow the replacement tooth, or crown, to blend in with the adjacent teeth.
The final step is to affix a crown to the abutment. The crown is shaped and colored to match your surrounding teeth. The finished result matches your natural teeth. The entire dental implant procedure can be completed in as little as two months, with just three office visits.
Dental implants have been in use by patients for more than 20 years, and the vast majority of implants first placed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the United States still function at peak performance. More importantly, the recipients of those early dental implants are still satisfied they made the right choice. If properly cared for, dental implants can last a lifetime.
If you are interested in learning more about whether dental implants are the right solution for you, contact Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center of Panama City to schedule a consultation with our skilled surgeon, Dr. Eric Claussen. Our office staff and surgical staff members are happy to answer any questions you may have to ensure you receive the high-quality implants that your mouth deserves.