Those who have missing teeth and find smiling or eating difficult and embarrassing should become familiar with the benefits of dental implants. Being afraid to smile and enjoy a meal with others does not have to be a life sentence for those missing one or more teeth. In this age of advanced technology, there are real solutions such as dental implants that not only restore that confidence but can also help ensure more optimal oral health.
Contrary to what some may believe, dental implants are not the same thing as dentures. Rather, the implant is a structure designed to look like the surrounding teeth that sits on top of a special type of screw that is implanted into the bone for secure anchoring. The procedure is considered to be permanent, and when correctly cared for, an implant may last for the remainder of a person’s lifetime.
The Benefits of Dental Implants
When it comes to the benefits of dental implants, there are two primary categories:
The benefits of dental implants in terms of cosmetics typically include the following:
- Eliminating the appearance of missing teeth. Missing one or more teeth can have a debilitating effect on one’s self-confidence that can keep them from avoiding social situations in which they would be required to smile or eat. With dental implants, the person no longer has visibly noticeable missing teeth, making their smile more confident and complete. It also generally makes eating gracefully less of a challenge.
- Establishing uniform look of teeth. The tooth part of a dental implant is designed to closely match the size and shade of a patient’s surrounding teeth so that their smile is uniform, and others will not be able to easily distinguish a dental implant from the rest of the person’s teeth.
- Staying in place. Implants go into the jawbone for secure anchoring and as a result stay put. However, those people who might be considering dentures to replace a few missing teeth should keep in mind that there may be times where dentures could move or slip in the mouth, which could potentially be embarrassing in a social setting. On the other hand, implants do not move or slip.
- Keeping premature aging and sagging of the face due to missing teeth at bay. When one or more permanent teeth are missing from a person’s mouth, the bone loss can eventually cause a person’s face to look as though it is sagging. The absence of adult teeth can also result in thinning lips, wrinkles forming around the mouth, and a general sense of premature aging in a person’s outward appearance. When dental implants go into place, they can help combat these symptoms so the recipient is less likely to experience these negative impacts on their appearance.
In addition to the cosmetic advantages of getting dental implants, there are also more practical benefits for overall dental health, such as:
- Dental implants function just like normal teeth. While most people are quicker to cite the fact that implants look just like normal teeth, they also act like them too. A person who previously had missing teeth and avoided certain foods because they were difficult and uncomfortable to eat may feel free to eat those taboo foods again with implants. This allows people to again enjoy a more well-rounded diet without as many chewing limitations.
- Implants can keep a person’s speech from sounding different. When an individual is missing one or more teeth, it is possible that they will no longer be able to make certain sounds the same way, which can effectively alter their speech. With the implants in place, it can be much easier to make the required sounds needed for normal speech.
- The movement of teeth is reduced with implants. When a tooth is missing, it is not uncommon for the surrounding teeth to shift in its absence. This can have several negative effects, including the appearance of crooked and leaning teeth, as well as the fact that those teeth can move out of their normal position, which can complicate both biting and chewing and may even lead to issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). However, with dental implants in place, the teeth are unable to shift into the space where the missing tooth was, which creates more stability in appearance, biting, and chewing.
- Implants can prevent bone loss. When one or more teeth are missing, the person’s jawbone can deteriorate over time due to dramatically reduced stimulation. This can happen at a much faster rate than many realize with the area of a missing tooth losing up to twenty-five percent of its volume in the first year alone. Unfortunately, the use of dentures may even speed up this deterioration in some specific cases.
- When properly cared for, implants can be highly durable. Many times, people will shy away from dental procedures that are not permanent and durable because they do not want to have to repeat them over time. However, one of the benefits of dental implants is that they are quite durable and may be permanent for patients that are dedicated to taking care of their teeth and daily hygiene.
- Implants may help protect against gum disease. Patients who experience one or more missing teeth then have a gap into which bacteria and food can get trapped in and thrive, which in turn can lead to gum disease. By replacing missing teeth with dental implants, it could help prevent the escalating development of gum disease in that space.
The most common alternatives to receiving dental implants are dentures or bridges. In comparison to bridges, the benefits of dental implants can win out again as they often look more natural, prevent damage to neighboring teeth, encourage less tooth decay, and can last longer. In comparison to dentures, implants generally do a better job of looking more natural, allowing normal eating, requiring less maintenance, and preserving the tissue of the jawbone.
Can I Get Dental Implants?
While the benefits of dental implants make them an attractive choice for many people missing teeth, not everyone may be an ideal candidate.
Putting in implants does require dental surgery. Any time a person undergoes surgery there are at least some limitations as to who would be able to handle such a process. In general, if you are a heavy smoker, are undergoing cancer treatment, have blood clotting disorders or metabolic bone disease, or are experiencing uncontrolled diabetes, you may not be a candidate for dental implants.
People who are considering dental implants should be aware that the procedure itself takes place over several dental visits and typically over several months. For this reason, committing to the process is important. In the end, most patients find the drawn-out process well worth their time when they are able to smile, eat, and speak without the issues that come with missing teeth.
An added benefit is that dental implants do not require any type of special care. People with dental implants can care for them as they would the rest of their permanent teeth. Brushing twice a day and flossing is highly recommended, as well as a visit to a licensed Houston dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning and oral examination.
If you are missing one or several teeth and are considering the best path forward for both your dental health and confidence in your appearance, make a consultation appointment with your Houston dentist to discuss whether dental implants are a good option for you.