People are living longer than ever, and while regular brushing, flossing, and checkups allow many of us to maintain our natural smiles for a lifetime, sometimes our teeth just can't keep up. If you've lost a tooth (or a few teeth) due to injury or disease, dental implants can rejuvenate both your smile and your oral health.
An implant is a synthetic tooth root in the shape of a post that is surgically placed into the jawbone. The “root” is usually made of titanium: the same material used in many replacement hips and knees, and a metal that is well-suited to pairing with human bone. A replacement tooth is then fixed to the post. The tooth can be either permanently attached or removable. Permanent teeth are more stable and feel more like natural teeth.
The ideal candidate for implants is a non-smoker who has good oral health, including a sufficient amount of bone in the jaw, and healthy gums with no sign of gum disease.
Single or Multiple Implants
Implants are versatile. If you are only missing one tooth, one implant plus one replacement tooth will do the trick. If you are missing several teeth in a row, a few strategically placed implants can support a permanent bridge (a set of replacement teeth). Similarly, if you have lost all of your teeth, a full bridge or full denture can be permanently fixed in your mouth with a strategic number of implants.
Advantages Over Dentures or Bridges
Conventional bridges and dentures are not fixed to the bone, and can therefore be unstable. This can make it difficult to eat or smile with confidence. Implants not only look more natural, but feel and act more like normal teeth, with a stronger biting force. And because they don't directly rely on neighboring teeth for support, implants don't compromise the health of your natural teeth. In fact, bridges are only expected to last seven to ten years, even less with root canals, whereas implants will typically last a lifetime.
Consider your replacement teeth to be the same as natural teeth. They require the same daily brushing and flossing, and the same amount of regular checkups. Just like your natural teeth, the better you take care of your replacements, the longer they will last.
If you’ve lost a tooth, your dentist may have recommended getting a dental implant to fill the empty space and allow for optimal function of your teeth. The dental implant itself is only a replacement for the root of the lost tooth, so after the implant has been placed, you’ll still need to get a restoration, or replacement tooth. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed (permanent) or removable replacement teeth that are made to match your natural teeth.
To make the new tooth or teeth, your prosthodontist will make an impression of your existing teeth, creating a model of your bite. The new restoration, most typically a crown, will be based on this model so it will blend in perfectly with the rest of your teeth. The crown is then attached to the connector point (abutment) on your implant.
Replacing a lost tooth is essential to a healthy mouth and a healthy body. It will provide you with increased aesthetics of course, but will also improve your speech, ease of eating, and oral hygiene.
Full-mouth reconstruction, full-mouth rehabilitation, and full-mouth restoration are terms often used interchangeably to describe the process of rebuilding or restoring all of the teeth in both the upper and lower jaws simultaneously. Your dentist, who has years of experience working with the materials and procedures related to full-mouth reconstruction, will develop a plan that addresses all your needs and will leave you with a perfect smile, ideal bite, and optimal function.
You may be a candidate for full-mouth reconstruction if:
- Your teeth have been lost due to decay or trauma
- Your teeth have been injured or fractured
- Your teeth have become severely worn because of long-term acid erosion (from foods, beverages, or acid reflux)
- You have ongoing jaw, muscle, or headache pain related to your bite
The extent of your reconstruction will depend on the condition of your teeth. Your dentist may recommend crowns, bridges, veneers, or implants to restore your smile to its best possible condition. He or she will also address the state of your gum tissue, as the health of your gums may impact the type of restorations you receive.
Your treatment plan will entail a step-by-step process detailing all aspects of your reconstruction. The duration of your treatment will depend on the extent of work needed, but in the end it will all be worth it. Your teeth, mouth, and smile will be healthy and beautiful for the rest of your life.