If you have ever lost missing teeth you’ve probably heard about how implant-based restorations are the most lifelike and natural replacement options. You may also know that initially at least, they don’t come cheap. But are dental implants worth it? Here’s what you need to know…
There are great advantages to dental implants that you simply don’t get with other forms of tooth replacement and for these reasons, they stand head and shoulders above other types of restoration. With this in mind, let’s talk about some of those advantages…
A dental implant is a permanent fixture in the mouth
Unlike conventional dentures and dental bridges, a dental implant is a permanent fixture in the mouth. Once inserted into the jawbone, any remaining bone tissue fuses with it to become an integral part of the structure of your mouth. So, because an implant is fully stabilised, it won’t move when you eat, chew or speak.
Moreover, once fitted in the mouth and topped with a lifelike crown, a dental implant creates a super-strong structure allowing you to eat whatever food you like. Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said for a denture or dental crown which simply can’t take the bite force that an implant-based restoration can.
Dental implants prevent bone loss
When a tooth is lost, you should know that it triggers a series of events that can lead to further tooth loss. One of those is bone loss.
When a natural tooth is in position, the tooth root – the part that sits below the surface of the gum – is supported by bone tissue. Once a tooth is missing, the supporting bone tissue is, in effect, redundant.
Because the bone tissue is no longer needed, it gets reabsorbed back into the body and as a result, the jaw bone shrinks. In fact, did you know that during the first year after tooth loss, up to 25% of your entire jaw can be reabsorbed?
Unfortunately, conventional tooth replacements such as dentures or bridges can’t halt this process but dental implants can.
So how so?
A dental implant is primarily made from titanium – in part because of its durable yet lightweight nature but also because of its biocompatibility.
Not only can a dental implant function in the body without causing an allergic reaction but it can also stimulate bone growth.
When the titanium post (implant) is anchored down into the jawbone, it tricks the bone tissue into thinking that it’s a new tooth root. As a result, any remaining bone tissue is restimulated at the implant site.
Messages are then sent back to the brain to say that the remaining tissue is indeed needed and because of this, bone loss is halted and the jawbone is saved from further shrinkage.
This brings us nicely onto the next advantage…
Dental implants last longer
One of the reasons why dentures need to be replaced every 5-10 years is because they no longer fit the exacting contours of the mouth – primarily due to bone shrinkage. As you can imagine, costs can mount up, especially when dentures need to be replaced several times throughout a patient’s lifetime.
On the contrary, once a dental implant is in place, it can stay functioning properly for many decades to come. In some cases, this has been proven to be forty years or more. Naturally, longevity does depend upon how well dental implants are cared for but patients should expect an implant to last considerably longer than a conventional denture or dental bridge.
So are dental implants worth it and are they right for you?
While dental implants offer the ideal tooth replacement option, not everyone is a suitable candidate – well – not immediately anyway. Remember, for example, that for dental implants to be successful, they need to be placed into ample healthy bone. So, if a patient has been missing a tooth or teeth for some time, there is a strong chance that they won’t have the density of bone required.
For this reason, a patient might have to undergo a bone graft to re-build quality bone at the implant site. This is something a dental implant dentist can do several months before implant surgery to ensure the best chance of implant success.
What about if you smoke?
Unfortunately, smoking is not only bad for your health but it’s also bad for a dental implant. Chemicals contained within tobacco smoke include bacteria which can then be passed on to the implant site. But not only this, smoking is also known to slow down the rate of bone growth – an important factor in the success of a dental implant.
So while it wouldn’t be prudent to place a dental implant into the mouth of a smoker, quitting smoking, or at least – halting for the duration of treatment – could mean that an implant restoration now becomes possible. Whether a patient can quit depends upon whether they consider dental implants to be worth it in the long term.
So are dental implants worth it?
We would advise anyone considering dental implants to look at the bigger picture and not just the initial costs. While they might cost a lot in the short term, in the long-term, an implant restoration may turn out to be great value for money – especially with regards to how much it can improve a person’s quality of life.
Naturally, an implant restoration can be a lengthy process often taking 4-6 months to complete but with the right dental team to support you, getting a dental implant could be one of the best investments in you and your overall health that you ever make.
If you would like to find out more about dental implants and how they can benefit you, come and talk to our experienced team at DDSS/DDII. Book a free no-obligation dental implant consultation and CT Scan today.