The Benefits of Dental Implants
If you have lost a tooth or are at risk of losing teeth from tooth decay, gum disease or an injury to your mouth, dental implants could be an excellent replacement.
A dental implant is a small titanium post surgically placed into your jawbone which would then provide a base for a porcelain replacement tooth.
Implants provide many benefits if you have lost natural teeth. They look like natural teeth so you feel good about your appearance without having gaps in your smile or trouble talking and eating. There is no need to compromise adjacent healthy teeth by grinding them down to secure a bridge or partial denture. They can stabilize ill-fitting dentures and partials, eliminating pain and discomfort.
Most importantly dental implants help to minimize loss of bone in the jaw. Without the stimulation teeth roots provide during activities like chewing, the bone does not stay active and actually starts to “melt” away. On average there is around a 25% decrease in bone width the first year after tooth loss with the height then decreasing year after year. With this bone loss the facial structure actually changes, causing it to look collapsed.
Risk Factors for Dental Implant Failure
Unfortunately dental implants will not work for everyone … the ideal dental implant patient:
- Is a non-tobacco user
- Has very good oral health, with no gum disease or untreated decay and takes care to brush and floss every day
- Has enough bone structure to support implants
- Is healthy enough for surgery
You may need to complete some preliminary steps before you can be considered for dental implants.
- If you are a tobacco user, quitting may be your only option – Tobacco use not only increases your risk of gum disease it also inhibits bone healing, which is essential for implants to become properly anchored in the jawbone.
- Treating gum disease – If you are suffering from periodontal disease and leave it untreated, supporting gum tissue and the bone holding the implant in place will deteriorate leading to implant failure.
- Bone growth or bone grafts – If you do not have enough bone density to support dental implants, it may be necessary to build up the jawbone using bone supplements or a bone graft. New technologies such as new implants with a smaller diameter that fit into less bone volume could be considered.
Make sure you give your dentist all of your health information when discussing if implants could be an option for replacing missing teeth. Factors such as diabetes, osteoporosis, immune system issues and teeth grinding all have to be carefully considered. Recently a study from the University of Buffalo showed a link between anti-depressant use and implant failure. A side effect from anti-depressants was a decrease in the effectiveness of the hormone responsible for bone growth and metabolism. In order for an implant to heal properly this process is essential and long term use of antidepressants could increase the risks of implant failure.
There are many steps in treatment planning for lost teeth. Dr. Swenda takes a lot of care and time to make sure you are presented with the best options for your overall health. If you have any questions or concerns about possible tooth loss and making sure your oral health is in good standing for dental implants, do not hesitate to contact the office.