The most lifelike and durable solution for missing teeth
Dental implants are the strongest, longest lasting and most lifelike replacement option for missing teeth. Dental implants look, feel and function just like regular teeth and can last a lifetime. Dr. Young always recommends dental implants as the first choice for patients who are able to receive them.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial replacement for a natural tooth root. A titanium post is inserted into the jawbone to act as a replacement root. A connecting piece known as an abutment is placed on top of the implant and functions as the attachment point for a dental crown, a bridge or a denture.
Building a strong foundation
The implant fuses (integrates) with your jaw bone and securely anchors the implant in the jaw. The integrated implant is as strong, or even stronger than a natural tooth root.
Dental implant benefits
Dental implants have many distinct advantages and benefits that make them the best replacement option for missing teeth.
- Dental implants allow you to talk, chew and exert pressure just like natural teeth.
- Dental implants don’t require the grinding down and weakening of adjacent teeth, as with dental bridges.
- Dental implants have the same biting and chewing power as natural teeth. This pressure is needed to maintain the bone volume around the implant and the adjacent teeth. Without this pressure, jaw bone tends to shrink and your face can get a “collapsed” look.
- With dental implants you can bite and chew the foods you need for proper nutrition and do not have to use a blender.
- Dental implants fill the gap left by the missing tooth and help prevent bacteria from accumulating on adjacent teeth, thus helping to prevent periodontal disease.
- Dental implants are the most long-lasting of all tooth replacement options, and if cared for properly they can last a lifetime.
Who are candidates for Dental Implants?
Due to major advances in technology, most people can now successfully receive dental implants. In the past, people with too much missing bone around their teeth could not receive implants as the implants would be inadequately supported. Dr. Young can regenerate the lost bone through advanced bone grafting procedures and provide the needed bone support for implants to be stably placed.
Even patients with health problems that formerly made implant placement too risky can now receive dental implants. Dr. Young can work directly with your physician as needed to ensure your treatment is a success.
Except for young persons whose jaw structures have not developed fully, there are no age limits on who can receive dental implants.
Dental Implants compared to dental bridges
Both bridges and implants attempt to restore function where a tooth or teeth have been lost.
The most common bridge is what dentists refer to as a “Three-unit bridge.” Each “unit” describes the position of a tooth. The three-unit bridge replaces a single missing tooth that has a tooth on either side of it. Think of land beside a river or lake. The bridge spans the body of water. A classic dental bridge does the same thing. It requires normally (and there are exceptions way beyond the usefulness of this explanation) the preparation of the teeth on either side of the space for crowns. The laboratory fabricates the crowns with a middle tooth we call the “pontic.”
The problem with the three unit bridge is that it is a multi-tooth solution to a one-tooth problem. The concern is that should anything go wrong with any part of the bridge it will have to come out and now we have a three-tooth problem.
The dental implant in this particular example is a one-tooth solution to a one-tooth problem. Should something go wrong in the future, the solution will remain one-tooth and not grow to include other teeth.
But there are reasons at times the bridge is indicated over the dental implants. The general health of the patient and the availability of enough bone to place a strong implant are two reasons where a bridge may be indicated rather than a dental implant. Cone Beam Computer Tomography or CBCT is the best way to study questions about bone volume and anatomic concerns as they related to placing dental implants.
The problems with dentures as replacement teeth
The jawbone supporting your teeth needs biting and chewing pressure on your tooth roots to maintain its volume and density. When your teeth are lost, this pressure is no longer provided, and your jawbone gradually dissolves away and sinks. When you have lost all your teeth, the entire ridge of your jaw loses height and thickness and causes the lower third of your face to have a collapsed look.
Dentures alone do not provide the biting and chewing pressure necessary to maintain the bone volume in your jaw. The type of pressure placed on the jaw by dentures actually accelerates bone loss and facial collapse, which is why denture wearers often look prematurely aged.
Disadvantages of dentures
Dentures have many other disadvantages that make them a less-than-ideal teeth replacement option:
- Dentures slip and have to be routinely refitted due to jawbone shrinkage.
- Dentures can make noise or click while you are talking or eating.
- Dentures often need to be secured in place with adhesives.
- Dentures cover the roof of your mouth and inhibit your sense of taste.
- Dentures provide only 10% of the biting and chewing power of natural teeth, making it difficult or impossible to chew many of the foods you need for good health and necessitating the use of a blender if you eat these foods at all.
If there are still enough teeth with reasonable support and if they are located where they can be useful in supporting replacement teeth, then people have the option of considering removable appliances and/or fixed bridgework.
If all the teeth have significant problems to the point where it is not advised to attempt to repair and hold them – and dental implants are not a reasonable or acceptable options, then the complete denture – the set of false teeth replacing an entire arch of teeth – is an option. A complete set of upper teeth is often a good method for even transitioning to dental implant support because it allows the upper jaw to heal following tooth extractions and also enables the patient to determine whether or not the implants are worth obtaining.
Because the complete lower denture is such a difficult appliance to wear for most people, the minimal recommended standard of care as stated by the American Dental Association is the placement of at least two mandibular implants in the front part of the jaw to help keep the denture in place and over the ridge for effective chewing and speaking.
Finally, and in some medical situations this is necessary to eliminate dental infections, there is the option of living with no teeth. Nutrition can be provided in ways that give this as an option. It is a challenge to consider this option but, again, it sometimes is better than whatever the individual is currently dealing with.
Implant-supported dentures increase chewing power
When dental implants are used to support a denture, biting and chewing power increases dramatically and the denture functions much more like natural teeth. You will be able to eat many more foods than with a regular denture. Additionally, the biting and chewing pressure exerted on the jaw by the implants stimulates the underlying bone. This prevents bone loss, so that your face will not get a collapsed look.