During my time as a cosmetic dentist, I have received a number of questions from patients regarding dental implants. These typically range from what is a dental implant to how long will implants last once in place. Yet, even after a thorough conversation about the benefits, and often necessity, of implants many patients are still hesitant to undergo this dental procedure.
That is because, unlike the dentures, partial dentures and bridges, dental implants require a much more involved procedure and require a great deal more time for the solution to fully integrate into the mouth. For patients, the idea of this procedure often serves as a barrier. However, because implants will bring a number of benefits that other restorative procedures will not, I believe that they should be strongly considered by anyone looking to address the replacement of missing teeth.
Benefits of Implants
When talking about the benefits of dental implants, the most important thing to address is the strength of the implant compared to dentures, partials and bridges. Because implants are screwed directly into the jawbone, patients must accept the implant on a biologic level. As a result, implants will transfer the bite force from the adjacent teeth to the jawbone, thus improving integration, increasing strength and decreasing the risk of failure. It also helps protect the adjacent teeth.
This type of failure is often a problem with bridges, as they address gaps by bridging the two adjacent teeth. In doing so, bridges increase the force on the adjacent teeth and as a result the susceptibility of these teeth to fracture. The mechanical design of bridges also creates its own set of problems. For instance, because patients cannot floss between teeth bridges often result in cavities, which are another cause for failure. For these reasons, bridges often take a one-tooth problem and create a three-tooth problem.
However, these issues are not present with implants. In fact, because implants stand only where the previous tooth once was, patients can easily floss around them and reduce the incidence of any tooth or gum issues. In addition, once integrated into the bone, implants are not subject to cavities and are very difficult to fracture. Finally, implants allow patients to maintain the integrity of their mouth – keeping as many teeth as possible, for as long as possible.
Factors to Consider
Of course, implants are not without their faults. In fact, for those patients without good bone biology these procedures are often difficult and may result in infection or failure. Certain medications such as bisphosphonates can also change bone biology and external factors like smoking can make it difficult for the bone to integrate the implant.
However, the truth is that if you live long enough you will likely require a dental implant at some point. That is because as age increases so too does the likelihood of tooth loss. The good news is that with the advances in modern dentistry these procedures generally have a 90% success rate, meaning the chances that your teeth will outlive you are fairly high.
For more information on dental implants and the benefits that they bring, call us at 813-689-4226 to schedule a consultation today.