Sometimes, the tooth fairy doesn’t get the memo that you’re all grown up and a quarter just doesn’t cut it anymore. Whether it’s from physical trauma (who knew a glued-on heel would lead to a nosedive?) or a serious cavity, few changes are quite as noticeable as a new gap in your smile. Fortunately, technology is on your side; dental implants are becoming a safe, natural-looking alternative to bridges or dentures.
Are You a Good Candidate?
If you’re wondering whether you’re a good candidate, here are some criteria recommended by Mayo Clinic:
- You have at least one missing tooth
- You’d rather not get dentures
- You want to improve your speech without worry of denture slippage
- Your jawbone has stopped growing
- Your bones and tissues are healthy
- You don’t have health issues that could interfere with your jawbone healing
- A few months is worth the wait for you to complete the process
How it Works
If you’re new to the concept of dental implants, here’s an overview: your dentist surgically inserts a lifelike prosthetic tooth with a titanium root into your jawbone. Over several months, the bone of your jaw adapts and fuses with the root in a process called osteointegration. Technically, the procedure is a root replacement, as you can add either fixed or removable prosthetics like dentures to the titanium base. For the purposes of this discussion, however, we’re referring to the fixed type.
The primary draw of this tooth-replacement method over traditional dentures or bridgework are primarily the solid, comfortable, and permanent fit – because dental implants are a part of you. They are also more durable, lasting up to a lifetime with proper care. Other benefits:
- Since implants are like real teeth, you can floss, brush, and care for them in the same way you do your other teeth.
- Implants look just like your real teeth, and unlike dentures, you get to keep your other real teeth, so the overall change is minimal.
- Implants are convenient, never needing to be removed for cleaning
As with any medical procedure, it’s important to weigh the benefits against any risks and downsides. Mayo Clinic lists the following general risks:
- Infection at the location of the implant
- Nerve damage
- Sinus cavity penetration in the upper jaw, leading to possible sinus issues
- Damage to surrounding teeth or blood vessels
Fortunately, WebMD reports a success rate of up to 98%, so it’s best to address any concerns with your dentist. It’s also a good idea to inquire about your dentist’s experience with dental implants, as that could affect the success of your procedure.
Chris Turberville-Tully is a marketing strategist for Dental Implants Clinic, an online resource for finding a clinic in the UK. Dental Implants Clinics also offers expert advice and a directory of implant surgeons.