When considering dental implants as a solution to a missing tooth or teeth, it is important to have a basic understanding of the implant procedure. This understanding also highlights the benefits of dental implants.
An implant is made of three equally important pieces: the titanium implant, the abutment, and the crown. In the first step of the procedure, the implant is surgically placed into the jaw bone. After placement, the titanium implant begins to fuse with the jaw bone. This creates a connection between jaw and implant very similar to that between jaw and a natural tooth. The next step is to fit the abutment over the part of the implant that is exposed above the gum line. Finally, the crown, the piece that looks like a natural tooth, is placed over the abutment.
Traditionally, patients missing only one tooth select a fixed bridge for tooth replacement; however, this treatment is not without complications. A bridge often damages the remaining natural teeth, which may otherwise have remained healthy. Bridges often need to be replaced once or twice over a lifetime, depending on the patient’s age. Similar complications exist with partial dentures. Within 5-7 years of treatment, there is as large as a 30% failure rate in either fixed bridge or partial denture replacements. Given the potential complications and required repair, these options can become more costly in the long-run, particularly for patients who receive replacements earlier in life.
Traditional procedures pose risks of complications, whereas implants promote overall oral and jaw health. The presence of natural teeth or implants helps to preserve the jaw bone. An extracted or lost tooth can cause the bone to weaken or erode. Bone grafting may be required to create sufficient bone structure in which to place the implant. Once placed, successful implants provide stability and work to maintain jaw health just as natural teeth do.
There is over 50 years of science and research that supports the use and success of dental implants. Often, they are the best long-term option for tooth replacement.