Dental Implants – A Superior Tooth Replacement Method?
Our Addlestone dental team looks at how patients can benefit from this modern treatment
To some patients, dental implants may seem like a new idea. They have, however, been around for over fifty years now and have been refined and improved over the years to a point where they are now widely used to replace missing teeth.
Whilst many patients still believe that dentures are the only way to do this, dental implants arguably offer a more sustainable, stable and stronger way to do so. Consequently, we and many others, believe that implants are a superior option, as we shall see in this blog.
What are dental implants?
We could write a whole blog, or perhaps several of them, on the intricacies of dental implants and the fine details on how they work. For the purpose of this introductory blog though, a brief description will suffice.
Essentially, a dental implant is a sophisticated ‘screw like’ piece of titanium which is placed into the jaw bone, in effect, replacing the natural tooth root where a tooth has been lost. The implant is allowed to fuse with the bone for a period of around three months. After this stage, an abutment is attached to the implant to allow a crown to be fitted to replace the natural tooth. We will look at the procedure itself in more detail in a future post, but here we will focus on the benefits of dental implants.
What’s wrong with dentures?
Before we look at the benefits of implants, it is worth looking at why people might wish to have them instead of dentures. Although both the look and quality of dentures are both greatly improved from earlier versions, dentures do still pose a number of challenges for some patients. These include:
- Instability – Perhaps the number one problem cited by many denture wearers. Dentures do have a tendency to move around in the mouth slightly, sometimes causing discomfort or embarrassment.
- Fiddly to clean – Dentures have to be removed from the mouth to be cleaned thoroughly. This can be fiddly and time consuming.
- Lacking a natural feel – Even the best dentures in the world can still feel like, well, dentures. Although aesthetically more natural looking than in the past, you can still sometimes tell when a patient is wearing dentures. Wearers also often discover that they find harder foods more difficult to eat and may avoid them altogether.
- Do not prevent bone loss in the jaw where teeth are missing – Although perhaps less obvious to denture wearers, the lack of a tooth root means that the bone in that area degrades. This is one of the likely contributors to loose dentures and can also lead to changes in the shape of the face.
Why are dental implants superior to dentures?
Perhaps it is best to start this discussion by addressing the points made above about dentures.
Dental implants offer an excellent level of stability. Whilst dentures depend on a correct fit, along with denture adhesives to hold them in place, implants are placed into the jawbone itself. A process, known as osseointegration, then takes place naturally. This causes the bone to bond firmly with the titanium implant. Because of this bonding, the dental implant is incredibly secure and you will find that you can eat any food without having to worry about their stability.
Unlike dentures, implants aren’t removed to be cleaned. In fact, you can more or less think of your implant in the way that you would your natural teeth. Whilst the crown part of the implant procedure will not decay as it is artificial, some staining may occur if you neglect to keep it clean. This is simply done by brushing it as you would your natural tooth.
It is very important to take care of your gums. This applies both to natural teeth and dental implant patients. Gum disease is a real threat and can cause an implant to become loose and unstable where periodontitis or peri-implantitis occurs. We recommend that our Addlestone patients use both floss to clean between their teeth and see the hygienist at the Synergy Clinic for professional cleaning every six months or so.
Dental implants look entirely natural, with the crown being made to match your natural teeth. Although they may feel a little different initially, most patients find that they soon forget about this and treat their implants as they would a natural tooth. As implants should last for a minimum of twenty years (and often more), you will get many years service from this tooth replacement system.
Whilst bone density reduces when a natural tooth is lost, with dentures providing no solution to this, the placing of a dental implant helps to prevent bone loss. This is because the body is ‘fooled’ by the titanium implant into thinking that a natural tooth root is in place. This not only aids the strength and stability of your implant, but helps to stop the facial shape changes that can make you look older than you really are.
Implants are an excellent way to replace missing teeth. If you would like to discover if you are a suitable candidate for this treatment, the best way to do so is to call your Addlestone dental practice and make an appointment for an initial consultation with one of our skilled implant team. We will discuss the details of the procedure with you and examine you to make sure that dental implants will work for you. If you would like to find out more about this increasingly popular tooth replacement method, please call the Synergy Clinic on 01932 856541.