Missing teeth can not only be a major source of embarrassment but have a negative impact on a person’s oral and overall health. That is why more than 5 million dental implants are placed each year by dentists in the United States, according to the American Dental Association. Many people with gaps in their smiles make good candidates for dental implants, but some cases can be more complex than others. If you are considering dental implants and want to know what makes a dental implant case complex, keep reading below.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a small titanium rod that is surgically inserted into the jawbone to provide stable support for a new artificial tooth. The implant fuses with the bone through a natural process called “osseointegration”, thereby mimicking the natural tooth root structure to enable patients to eat, speak and smile with confidence again.
When Jawbone Density is Lacking
Natural teeth stimulate the jawbone through chewing and biting. When a tooth goes missing, the jawbone can slowly diminish, just like an unused muscle will atrophy if you stop going to the gym.
If your jawbone has lost density because of a missing tooth, it may be too weak or thin to support a dental implant. If so, your dentist may recommend that you undergo a bone graft to fortify the jaw with a bit of bone from another part of the body and create the foundation needed for successful dental implantation.
Multiple Missing Teeth Raise Questions
Dental implants can replace one or several missing teeth – or even an entire row, if necessary. However, the more teeth you are missing, the more complex your implant case may be.
Instead of a single artificial tooth on top of one dental implant, your dentist will likely have to determine where to place the implants in your jaw to best support an implant-supported denture or bridge.
Moreover, you will have to consider – with the help of your dentist – whether you prefer a removable denture that snaps onto your implants or artificial teeth that remain permanently in place.
How Overall Health Affects Dental Implants
Your oral and overall health and behavior can have a big impact on whether dental implants are right for you. For example, if you have gingivitis or periodontitis, you will be subject to a higher risk of infection during the implant healing process.
Moreover, diseases or medications that affect your immune system can also impact how your body heals after a dental implant is placed.
Lastly, you should be aware that smoking or chewing tobacco can contribute to implant failure by decreasing blood flow and therefore making it harder for your body to recover after implant surgery.
With a success rate of 98%, dental implants are an effective and reliable solution to replacing missing teeth. If you are ready to fill in the gaps in your smile, talk to a dentist today to see if you would make a good candidate for dental implants.
About the Author
Dr. Mark M. Farthing has been helping Indianapolis residents smile with confidence since 1985. Over the years, he has kept his skills sharp by continuing his education at the prestigious Dawson Academy and through his affiliation with the Implant Study Group. Patients who wish to replace their missing teeth can visit the Indianapolis Family Dentistry website or call Dr. Farthing at 317-898-3384.