According to data from the NIH, the average American adult aged 20-64 is missing three permanent teeth, not including their wisdom teeth. Once they reach the 65+ age bracket, Americans have lost an average of 9 permanent teeth and more than 27% have no natural teeth remaining at all.
Many patients suffering from tooth loss assume that the only solution is to get dentures. In reality, traditional dentures are only one of many options available to artificially replace missing teeth. Of these options, dental implants are one of the most popular and effective.
Want to learn more about dental implants and whether they could help restore your smile? Keep reading through our comprehensive guide here.
Dental implants are long-term tooth prosthetics that look and act just like the natural teeth they're replacing. While not technically considered permanent, a single implant can last for decades if you care for it well.
Dental implants consist of two main parts. The first is the anchor, a titanium metal post that's implanted beneath your gums into the bone of your jaw. Your jawbone will grow around this anchor similar to the way it grows around the natural tooth root in a process called osseointegration.
This anchor will protrude slightly above your gum line so that it can connect to the second part of the implant: the crown. This crown is made of a durable zirconia or porcelain material that replicates the missing tooth in both shape and color. Once the parts are put together, you're left with a tooth that functions just like a natural one, allowing you to chew, speak, and smile with confidence.
Getting dental implants is an involved procedure, but it's worth the process if you're a good candidate. For one thing, dental implants have a notably high success rate—some studies put it as high as 95%. This means that as long as you're working with a trusted oral surgeon or periodontist like those at Baton Rouge Perio, you have a very low risk of complications.
The cosmetic benefits of dental implants are also undeniable. As far as tooth prosthetics go, they're as close to a real tooth as you can get. Take a look through our smile gallery for an idea of what results to expect.
Implants can also help to prevent further bone loss by stimulating regeneration and growth. Along with their long-lasting materials, this helps them stay in place for years. If the crown becomes stained or damaged, though, your periodontist can replace it with a new one.
Finally, implants save you from the hassle of removable dentures. This means no sticky dental glue, no shifting around and causing sores on your gums, and no chance of them falling out while you're eating or speaking.
The first step in the dental implant process is a consultation. Here, your dental team will examine your mouth and take x-rays, 3d scans, or both to ensure you're a good candidate for the procedure.
The procedure itself begins with numbing the area inside your mouth to eliminate discomfort. You might also discuss the use of an intravenous sedative ahead of time.
The surgeon will then open the area of the implant and insert the metal anchor into the bone. If you have mild bone loss in your jaw, you might need a bone graft to support the implant. It will take an average of four to six months for this anchor to heal before the permanent crown can go on, though you might be able to get a temporary crown until then.
Finally, after the implant heals, you can return to have the permanent crown placed.
With expert care and a streamlined process, many patients can head right back into their normal routine with little or no time off following their procedure. Normal side effects during the early healing process may include tenderness, mild swelling, and redness or bruising around the area. Most patients can manage these symptoms with over-the-counter painkillers and cold packs.
The most important parts of dental implant aftercare are preventing infections and allowing the implant to heal. As such, you can expect to eat a diet of liquids and soft foods for the first 2-3 weeks. You'll also need to be careful with your dental hygiene routine, using a gentle saline rinse to clean the area and being gentle with your toothbrush.
If you want to increase the longevity of your implants, follow these long-term aftercare tips as well:
Once the implant is done healing, you'll be able to treat it like the rest of your teeth. Keep up with your regular oral hygiene routine by brushing and flossing twice daily.
Many people with tooth loss for various reasons will qualify for dental implant treatment. Even so, like any medical procedure, some conditions can disqualify you.
Some of the most common contraindications for dental implants include:
Only your dental team can tell you for sure whether you qualify for this procedure. If not, they'll work with you to find a more suitable option that still leaves you with a beautiful, complete smile.
Dental implants are a fantastic option for many people facing tooth loss. They have a high success rate, look like natural teeth, and don't come with the hassle of removable dentures. While not everyone will qualify for the procedure, it's always worth speaking to one of our periodontists to see if you're a good fit.
Looking for a team you can trust to deliver high-quality dental implant treatment? Search no further than Baton Rouge Perio. Dr. Kenneth Markle, Dr. Jenny Herman, and the rest of our excellent team look forward to helping you achieve a smile you can be proud of.