March 23, 2016
For more than 40 years, dental implants have been the most reliable, versatile and longest lasting form of tooth replacement available. Long considered the gold-standard in the replacement of missing teeth, implants look, feel and function more like natural teeth.
Over 30 million Americans are missing all of their teeth in one or both jaws. 3 million Americans already have at least one dental implant, and that number is growing by over a half a million each year. One of the reasons why implant dentistry is growing quickly is because implants are arguably one of the most predictable restorative dental procedures available today. With a success rate of 98%, patients can expect that their dental implant will last them the rest of their lives, when cared for properly.
Dental Implants are Versatile
Applications for restoration of missing teeth are varied and versatile when it comes to implant dentistry. They can be used to replace a single missing tooth, several missing teeth, or an entire arch (upper or lower jaw- or both).
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root made from bio-compatible medical grade titanium metal. In a single tooth restoration, a porcelain crown is anchored to the implant via an abutment, which is the only small part of the implant visible above the gumline. A single dental implant can be used to replace a single missing tooth. As few as four dental implants can be used to replace a full dental arch (upper or lower jaw). Implants can be used to stabilize traditional dentures, preventing slipping and instability, with as few as two implants.
Dental Implant vs. Traditional Bridge
In the case of a single missing tooth, or even two consecutive missing teeth, a traditional dental bridge is a conventional solution. A bridge requires that the 2-4 teeth adjacent to the space act as anchors for the prosthetic tooth. The healthy teeth are surgically shaped into a peg and crowned, and a pontic (false/prosthetic tooth) spans the middle, cosmetically replacing the missing tooth or teeth. In this case, healthy teeth are required to be surgically prepared to accept the crowns. A conventional dental bridge can provide esthetic results and restore some function. This method of treatment will remain healthy and reasonably strong for 5-15 years. Common problems with a traditional bridge are bone loss and recession of the gums under the pontic, food trap under the pontic, and tooth decay under the crowns of the anchor teeth.
A dental implant is a more natural solution. An implant is placed directly into the space of the missing tooth or teeth, without involving adjacent, healthy teeth. Only one crown is needed for each missing tooth replaced. Where there are multiple consecutive missing teeth, two dental implants can be used to replace 3-4 missing teeth without involving the healthy natural teeth on either side. Tooth replacement with dental implants is 98% successful and when properly maintained, can easily past the rest of your life. Dental implants preserve the bone in the areas of missing teeth, preventing bone loss and shrinking of the bone. Shrinking bone (atrophy) often causes changes in face shape and fullness.
Strength and durability are hallmarks of dental implants. There are no dietary restrictions on implants, and recipients can easily bite into apples and other tough foods without fear of damaging their dental work.
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