If you are uncomfortable to the point of only giving closed-lip smiles because you are embarrassed for others to see you are missing one or more teeth, dental implants may be an option for you. You are not the only one without a full set of pearly whites. In fact, it is estimated that just under seventy percent of Americans between their mid-thirties and mid-forties have lost at least one permanent tooth.
The good news is that missing one or more teeth does not have to be permanent. When handled by a reputable dentist, dental implants can restore a partially toothless smile with a customized crown that should make the implant virtually undetectable to others, and that is indeed something to smile about.
What Is A Dental Implant?
It is estimated that more than three million Americans have received a dental implant. This procedure is performed in the dentist’s office.
A dentist will begin by putting a dental implant, or post, directly into the jaw. Over time, the implant becomes anchored into the jawbone at which point a crown or bridge is usually attached. The final result is a strong and durable implant which gives way to a fabulous toothy smile.
Who Is A Candidate For Dental Implants?
Dental implants are not uncommon and are frequently used to replace teeth that have been severely broken or damaged. As long as an individual is in state of overall good health, maintains a healthy jawbone structure, and does not use tobacco products, they could be a prime candidate for dental implants.
Some of the most common reasons that patients seek dental implants can include:
A smile that features a missing tooth can cripple a patient’s confidence and overall quality of life.
When one or more teeth are missing it can cause unwanted and sometimes embarrassing issues with both chewing food and speaking clearly.
The space created by a missing tooth can invite movement from the surrounding teeth, which can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease for patients.
For some patients, bone loss can occur in the tooth-supporting bone in the jaw.
Benefits Of Getting A Dental Implant
The benefits of getting dental implants can vary based on a patient’s reason for seeking the treatment. Some patients may seek dental implants primarily for aesthetic reasons while others view the procedure as more of a necessity to be able to properly chew and speak. However, on average, most patients experience benefits from the procedure such as:
- A complete smile with no missing teeth
- The ability to chew food properly
- The ability to speak more clearly
- A reduction in unsightly and possibly risky movement of teeth
- A decrease in the related risk for tooth decay and gum disease
- An increase in confidence
- An improved quality of life
The first step towards learning if a dental implant is right for you is setting an appointment and visiting with a reputable and licensed dental professional for a consultation. During a consultation, the dentist will most likely do a thorough examination of the oral cavity and perform several x-rays. With the information yielded by these two practices, the dentist should have a much clearer picture of a patient’s oral health and eligibility for dental implants.
While the individual steps of a dental implant can differ based on each individual’s unique circumstances, in general, the process follows these steps:
- For patients that have let a month or more lapse between their consultation and deciding to move ahead with dental implants, a dentist may request updated x-rays to ensure accuracy. This step is key in helping dentists identify precisely where the implant should be placed.
- The next step is the placement of the implant into the jawbone. Although patients are generally treated with local or other anesthetics due to the nature of this procedure, some soreness and swelling is not uncommon. The recovery process from the placement of the implant can require a soft food diet and/or pain medication for some patients.
- Once the dental implant is in place, the next step is to replace the missing tooth itself. The timetable for this step can vary depending on the patient. Some patients are able to begin work on the replacement tooth sooner than others. For most patients, it generally takes several weeks or months for the dental implant to properly fuse with the bone.
- A single tooth implant is essentially topped with a dental crown that is then permanently attached to an abutment or implant post. For the purpose of aesthetics, an experienced dentist should work diligently with a specialized lab to create a customized crown that will closely match the color, size, and shape of the patient’s other teeth.
Life After Dental Implants
In general, the success rate of dental implants is quite encouraging at just over ninety-five percent. If done properly, the implants themselves can last decades or, in some cases, a lifetime. With statistics like these, it makes good sense to proceed with dental implants if your dentist agrees that you are an ideal candidate.
Take back your confidence and your oral health by speaking with a Houston dentist today regarding your eligibility for dental implants and set an appointment to see the difference they can make in your life.