If you have one or a few missing teeth is it necessary to replace them with a dental implant?
The answer is no it is not necessary. Many people have a missing tooth or multiple teeth. They can eat, speak, talk perfectly fine. So why do so many people get dental implants then? Before we answer this let’s get the basics…
What are Dental implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root usually made of titanium that is placed below the gum in the jaw-bone. Dental implants are much smaller than they used to be and placement can be very simply now due to advances in technology. Most patients can have it done only with local anaesthetic and have no pain afterwards – often not even requiring a day off to recover.
How is this possible?
- Well let’s look at the size of a typical implant. On average they can be 6-12mm long and 3.3-5mm wide. This is the average most commonly used size and is the equivalent to a small pill or tablet. Being so small means that minimal trauma is created and so healing can be very fast.
- Dental implants are now placed with 3D planning prior to treatment. A 3D simulation of the jaws and where the implant is to be placed is completed. This ensures extreme levels of accuracy and safety. If there are any nerves, arteries or other structures in nearby we know about it. Your safety is always a priority
- Most dental implants now can be placed using specialised equipment allowing for accuracy and pinhole surgery. That means a very high rate of success, predictability and comfort for the patient.
The dental implant can be left to heal. After 2-4 months the bone will bond with the implant in an amazing process called osseointegration. This means that a small implant can be a very strong support for the dental crown which then goes on top at a later stage.
Your new implant supported tooth will look and feel like a natural tooth. You can now eat with your dental implant supported crown, brush and floss as if it was your original tooth.
Now that you know what a dental implant is, how simply and safely they can be placed, and the benefits – are they still necessary?
Well no. But let’s look at the situations where they can be of great benefit…
- Replacing a missing front tooth. If you have a missing front tooth and have been using a denture then a dental implant can be ideal. Dentures need to be taken in and out for cleaning. They can become loose, food can get under them and they can become a nuisance. Many patients in this situation usually say how much they love the dental implant because it feels like their natural tooth.
- When dentures cannot be tolerated. Dentures replacing many teeth are bulky, thick and move around. This can become intolerable. Imagine trying to speak and eat with a mouth full of plastic. In these cases we can use dental implants allow for a natural feeling and solid platform on which to eat. It is important to note that you DO NOT need a dental implant for each missing tooth. In fact to replace an entire arch of teeth can require just 4 dental implants.
3. To prevent further tooth loss. Missing teeth means that the existing teeth have to work harder as they are now taking more of the load. This can reduce the life expectancy from the remaining teeth. By using dental implants to restore a space this can allow for a more balanced and longer lasting bite.
4. To prevent gaps forming. When teeth are absent, nearby teeth can start drifting towards the space. This can create further gaps between other teeth and make the bite unstable. Replacement of this space with a dental implant can avoid this.
So as you can see dental implants although NOT necessary can have major benefits. They are now smaller, more accurately placed, long lasting than they’ve ever been. We’ll continue with further articles on dental implants that can help you to make informed decisions on what is best for you.
Further questions or concerns?
We are here to help so feel free to call and schedule an appointment with us today and get back to owning a confident smile!