We judge each other on our smile. There is no doubt about that. Many people say they like people with attractive and confident smiles more than people without. The problem is that Americans often need more than just whitening to help their smiles. Some estimate that the number of people with bridges, dentures or crown replacements for teeth is about 15 million. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, nearly 70% of all adults are missing at least one tooth. These tooth losses are due to tooth decay, gun disease, failed root canals or accidents. At least 92% of people between the ages of 20 and 64 have cavities. This is only increasing as more and more people lose or break teeth. One alternative to these replacements is the dental implant.
Dental implants replace broken or missing teeth in a different way than dentures or bridges. Dentures and bridges need to be anchored to other teeth. The surrounding teeth have to be altered to make room for the replacements. A dental implant, on the other hand, is anchored in the jaw and the only area impacted is the place where the missing tooth was. This makes the process less disruptive for the rest of the mouth.
What is the dental implant process?
- X-rays show if there is enough bone to support a dental implant. X-rays will show if a person is a good candidate for a dental implant. If the problem tooth is still in place, it needs to be removed before any further work can be done. When the area heals, the time varies with the patient, the next step can be done.
- A titanium anchor is placed in the jaw. An oral surgeon anchors the titanium piece into the jaw. This can have the stud attached or that will be added in the next step. This can be done under general or local anesthesia. Again, the area needs to heal. If there are no problems with this anchor the next step will take place a short time after this.
- The stud is attached to the implant and the crown is put on that. If the stud was not attached to the anchor, it is put in now. The next step is to add the crown, which will look and feel like a regular tooth. The implant process is now complete.
There are about three million people who currently have dental implants in the United States. This number is only expected to rise as the success rate for a dental implant is nearly 98%. The industry is expected to grow to about $6.4 billion by 2018.
Dental implants should be treated like regular teeth. The main difference is that the surface is more porous so more care should be taken when cleaning, flossing and using mouth wash. The surface can turn into a haven for all sorts of bacteria. With proper care, they can last a very long time.
The best part of a dental implant is that it does look and feel like a regular tooth. There is no need to remove it for any reason. Once it is in, it is in. Unless it breaks, there should be no reason to play with it ever. This makes its care a lot easier than dealing with dentures, which can be loose and also impact how people speak and eat. These are not concerns that people who have at least one dental implant should ever have to even think about.