What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a titanium post that is placed in the jaw to replace a missing tooth. The post imitates a tooth root while also stimulating the surrounding bone to keep it healthy. It also forms the base on which a final dental restoration can be placed. A single implant and a ceramic crown is often used to replace just one tooth. Sometimes, two implants are placed and a ceramic bridge is used to span an area of several missing teeth. In addition, two to four implants can sometimes be placed to retain a partial or a complete denture.
Dental implants are the closest thing to a person’s natural tooth that we currently have in dentistry. They are meant to last a lifetime and can truly enhance the function and esthetics of someone who is missing one or more teeth.
What are the advantages of a dental implant?
Other than replacing one or more missing teeth, there are many advantages to having a dental implant that most patients do not know about. One advantage of dental implants is that they stimulate cells in the surrounding bone, thus keeping that bone healthy.
When a natural tooth is lost and nothing is put in its place (i.e. a dental implant), the bone begins to break down or “shrink” over time. Another benefit of having a dental implant is that it provides a functional smile. When a tooth or multiple teeth are lost, surrounding teeth can shift. In addition, a person with a missing tooth or missing teeth may have their speech impacted.
Dental implants can prevent surrounding teeth from shifting and can allow a person’s speech to be unimpacted. Another advantage dental implants have over other restorative options is that it does not affect the surrounding teeth negatively. For example, a dental bridge often requires trimming of natural tooth structure on either side of the missing space.
With a partial denture, the teeth on either side of a space often have clasps around them, which can put a lot of stress on them over time. With dental implants, adjacent teeth are not affected whatsoever.