There are plenty of reasons that people lose teeth — from trauma to disease, and everything in between — but regardless of the reason for that gap in your smile, you’ve probably considered filling it in.
A missing tooth isn’t just a cosmetic problem. It can create issues with your bite, make eating or speaking difficult, provide a safe harbor for food and bacteria to build up, and even cause the teeth on either side of the missing one to shift, leaning in towards the gap. If you’re missing more than a few teeth, your jaw bone may not be receiving enough stimulation, and could actually start to lose bone density.
Luckily, there’s a tried and true solution for missing teeth: Dental implants. This reliable procedure has been used successfully to replace lost teeth for decades. If you’re thinking about getting dental implants, you should know the basics about the process.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Dental implants are designed to work just like a fabricated version of your real teeth. That means there’s a crown that’s visible above the gums, and there’s a root that anchors the tooth into your jawbone. The root is made from titanium, a metal that has been used in biomedical applications for many years thanks to its biocompatibility. The titanium root of a dental implant can actually osseointegrate with the bone of your jaw. As for the crown, it’s crafted from durable, attractive dental ceramic to look exactly like your other teeth for the most natural possible look.
After the implantation procedure, it will take four to six months for the bone to fully heal around the root and stabilize the replacement tooth in your mouth. Once that process is complete, your implant will function just like your real teeth. It’s just as durable and strong as your other teeth, so you won’t need to change your diet or your habits. Plus it doesn’t require any additional maintenance beyond the normal brushing and flossing that your other teeth need. In most cases a dental implant will last decades, or even a lifetime.
Can I Get Dental Implants?
Any adult with a missing tooth and good enough health for surgery can be a candidate for dental implants. However, there are a few things that can throw a wrench into the gears, depending on the specifics. First, gum disease can be a deal breaker if it’s severe. Gum disease could damage or even make you lose your real teeth, and the effect could be the same on your dental implant. Most dentists will want to fully treat and cure gum disease before installing a dental implant. If you’ve already lost bone mass around the implantation site, there may not be enough bone to support an implant. Some medications can put implants at risk. And while smoking doesn’t necessarily prevent you from getting dental implants, it increases your risk for implant rejection, so most dentists will ask you to quit smoking for the procedure and the initial healing process, if not permanently.
You don’t have to live with a missing tooth. Dental implants can restore your smile so it looks natural and functions normally. What are you waiting for? Call (724) 282-4436 or contact us online to make an appointment and learn more about dental implants.