Should I Get Dental Implants for Missing Teeth?

Written by Prevent Tooth Decay on June 3, 2016. Posted in Dental producers, Gum disease treatment, Periodontist

Oral hygiene

If you’re missing teeth, you’re at risk of bone loss and drifting of neighboring teeth. When you lose a tooth, the jaw bone that originally supported that tooth will begin to shrink. Known as resorption, this is bone loss is the natural result of losing stimulation to the bone. Resorption will cause the bone to lose height and width and can begin almost immediately after a tooth is removed or falls out.

If you’re missing teeth that are adjacent to each other, not only will you be at greater risk of resorption, but your other teeth may begin to drift over time. The teeth alongside the gap may begin to lean over. Likewise, the teeth above the gap may shift down, into the vacant space. This drifting and shifting can alter the height and contours of your gum tissue, exposing adjacent teeth to periodental disease or dental decay.

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, nearly 70% of the adult population between ages 35 and 44 have lost at least one of their permanent teeth to an accident, gum disease, an unsuccessful root canal, or tooth decay. Whether you’re missing a single tooth or missing several teeth, having a dental implant to replace the missing teeth can help prevent matters from getting worse.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are not a recent invention – – in fact, they can be traced back to 600 AD. Of course, the procedure is significantly different than it was back then, but it’s also far more common. As many as 3 million people in the United States have implants. Each year, that number is estimated to grow by 500,000.

An implant is composed of two main parts: the endosseous implant, which replaces the root of your missing teeth, and the implant crown, which replaces the part of the tooth you can see.

What is the dental implant procedure like?

During implant procedure, you’ll be given local anesthesia to numb the area of the missing teeth. There are two steps to the procedure: first, the implant must be inserted in the bone. Once the implant has fused to the bone, you’ll need to return for a second visit to attach the crown, or visible part of the implant.

In general, it takes two to four months for a single implant to fuse to the bone. The exact time it will take for your implant to fuse will depend on the density of your jaw bone at the site of your missing teeth. The denser the bone at the implant site, the quicker the implant will be able to fuse. This is another reason it’s best not to wait for an extended period of time before getting an implant for missing teeth.

Once the implant has fused with your jaw bone, your dentist will fit a crown designed to look and function exactly like your missing teeth.

Overall, the procedure is minimally invasive and relatively comfortable. The most you’re likely to feel is some vibration in the implant site. There will be no open wounds following dental implant procedure so you should experience little discomfort after leaving your dentist office.

How successful are dental implants?

According to scientific literature, dental implants have a success rate of 98%. The success rate of dental implants is the highest of any tooth-replacement options. Even if you have relatively low bone density, success remains high.

How long do dental implants last?

The short answer: a lifetime.

What if I don’t get an implant?

If you choose not to have a dental implant to replace your missing teeth, you have a few other options:

  • Do nothing. You could, of course, leave your teeth as they are, missing teeth and all. We’ve already discussed some of the medical risks associated with this, such as bone loss and shifting. It’s important to be aware that having gaps between teeth also make food more prone to accumulate and thus keeping your teeth clean a greater challenge.
  • Fixed bridge. This is probably the most popular alternative to implants when restoring a single missing tooth. The teeth adjacent to the gap are ground down and a bridge is attached.
  • Dentures. Dentures don’t require grinding of healthy teeth, but they’re also less stable and more uncomfortable than implants.