What Are Dental Implants?
by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 11/17/2021
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that act as a permanent base to adhere fixed replacement teeth to. The artificial tooth roots are made of a titanium implant fixture that will gradually fuse with the living bone cells in your jaw over time. It's worth noting, however, that for this surgical procedure to be possible, you will need to have healthy gums and adequate bone.
Because of the nature of this procedure, dental implants don't exhibit any of the potential shiftings that teeth replacement options, such as dentures, may exhibit. For example, your gums and teeth naturally shift over time, which means dentures may need to be adjusted. This is also true if you have teeth removed to make room for dentures, as the dentures may not fit well once your gums heal and take a slightly different shape.
With all of that in mind, dental implants are an increasingly popular long-term solution to replace failing and missing teeth in comparison to crowns, bridges, and dentures because they function like natural teeth.
5 Benefits of Dental Implants
There are several benefits that dental implants have over other teeth replacement options. Here are five of the most common advantages patients can expect:
1. Fixed In Place
One of the most notable benefits of dental implants is that they are fixed in place. Teeth replacement options, like dentures, can shift around in your mouth as there isn't much to anchor them in place. However, with dental implants, the implant is grafted into your jaw bone, eliminating any teeth shifting. By eliminating this condition, it reduces the need for appointments where your dentist will need to re-adjust your replacement teeth to account for underlying teeth shifting that occurs over time.
Another benefit of dental implants is the flexibility of the procedure. Dental implants can handle the job, whether you need one tooth replaced, multiple teeth, or even an entire upper and lower set of teeth. This flexibility ensures a dental implant can replace it regardless of which tooth is missing or failing.
Perhaps the most compelling reason why people are increasingly choosing implants as their go-to tooth replacement method is longevity. With proper care, implants can last a lifetime. In comparison, partial dentures, also known as flippers, usually last anywhere from 1-3 years, dentures typically last around 5-7 years, and finally, bridges generally last 7-10 years.
Dental implants require less maintenance than other teeth replacement options. Due to their fixed, embedded nature, dental implants do not need periodic adjustments to make sure they are working correctly. In contrast, flippers, dentures, and bridges all need to be adjusted periodically by your dentist.
5. Improved Health
The last benefit dental implants have over other teeth replacement methods is that they're healthier for your teeth in the long run. With dentures, flippers, and bridges, the teeth adjacent to them will undergo accelerated loss. This happens because of the constant pressure of dentures on the jaw. A sign this is happening is when the dentures’ once tight fit begins to loosen and they become uncomfortable to wear. With dental implants, your surrounding healthy teeth will not be negatively affected by their presence.
Proper Oral Care for Dental Implants
Oral care is always essential for maintaining healthy teeth, and the same is true with implants. Like caring for natural teeth, the cleaning of implants falls into the same three categories: brushing, flossing, and using a night guard if you're prone to grinding teeth. Here’s how these methods protect your implants and the benefits of each.
Brushing your teeth properly at least twice a day is critical. Use an interdental brush that will get between your teeth and the spaces around your gums. Certain electric toothbrushes have tips designed explicitly for implant care, while manual toothbrushes require having the right bristles to ensure the areas where bacteria can accumulate are thoroughly cleaned.
Flossing is another way to remove debris and bacteria from in between your teeth. In regards to implants, it's important to use floss that is explicitly created for implants. If non-implant-safe floss is used, it can fray and leave excess debris in the mouth. In turn this can lead to an increase of plaque or infection around the implant. Additionally, a WaterPik may be a practical solution if flossing your implant is difficult.
If you have issues grinding your teeth while sleeping, a night guard is also recommended for oral care of your implants. Grinding your teeth can lead to severe tooth pain, tooth sensitivity, jaw and neck pain, and damage your implants. A custom night guard protects your teeth while you sleep, reducing stress and tension on your teeth, muscles, and joints, preventing bone loss and ensuring your implant remains sturdy. That said, there are over-the-counter night guards that work well too.
Regular Dentist Appointments
Remember, it’s important to have annual checkups with your dentist. Annual checkups help by finding potential issues before they get worse, including catching instances of grinding teeth and getting cavities. Dentists will also give advice on how to properly clean your teeth and gums, ensuring your teeth and implants will always be in good condition.
Schedule Your Dental Implant Consultation
Getting dental implants is a big decision, but if you decide it's the right choice for you, the dentists at Kimball & Beecher want to make sure they’ll last a lifetime. With six offices across Iowa, there's a dentist near you ready to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.