Dental Implants After Tooth Loss
Losing a permanent or adult tooth because of tooth decay, gum disease, or injury can impact how you look and feel. To protect your oral health and support your smile, your dentist can recommend personalized options for replacing teeth.
A dental implant is one common option dentists recommend for replacing one or multiple missing teeth. But how do dental implants compare to other replacement options? Can dental implants help your bite feel natural?
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a method used to replace a missing tooth. A lost or extracted tooth can affect the appearance of your smile, how you speak, and how you eat. Some consequences of missing teeth include:
- Altered bite & bone loss
- Chewing & swallowing problems
- Poor nutrition & eating difficulties
- Increased risk for dental problems
- Weakened jaw muscle & structure
Dental implants preserve gum and bone tissue by inserting a titanium root into the jawbone. An implant acts like a root—the invisible part that helps secure the tooth, making up approximately ⅔ of the tooth. The visible part of the tooth (anatomical crown) is attached separately.
A dental implant is a permanent anchor to support and stabilize the crown. Depending on your oral health and how many teeth are missing, your dentist may use dental implants to replace a few or many missing teeth.
Placing a dental implant usually requires at least 2 visits. At the first appointment, the dental implant is inserted, then the patient is given time to heal as the implant bonds to the bone and gum. Recovery can take several months.
After recovery, a second appointment is scheduled to attach the custom-made artificial tooth. Fitting a single tooth generally takes less time than fitting multiple teeth or dentures.
Generally, dental implants have a success rate between 90–95% and can last for 10 years or more. However, like your natural teeth, practicing dental hygiene and regular comprehensive oral exams are crucial for maintaining your artificial teeth and surrounding tissue.
Do Dental Implants Feel Natural?
Dentures are often the first image that comes to mind when people think of false teeth. But dental implants are another popular choice for replacing a few or all 32 missing teeth.
Traditional or complete dentures are a removable set of artificial teeth held in place by suction. While the custom-fit can help secure the dentures, they can slip. In addition, over time, bone and gum shrinkage can change how your dentures fit, which is why some patients use denture adhesive for temporary relief.
Conventional dentures also tend to feel artificial. Adjusting to the foreign object in your mouth can affect how you speak and how comfortable you are eating your favourite foods.
Dental implants have an advantage over traditional dentures because your artificial teeth won’t slip. A dental implant can restore bite force, so your artificial teeth feel and function like natural teeth.
Dental implants can even improve how dentures function. For example, overdentures or snap-in dentures use dental implants as a base to create a more secure fit. Typically, overdentures require 2–4 dental implants inserted into each jaw (upper and lower). Still, up to 10 may be used depending on your oral needs.
Dental implants improve chewing ability and comfort, so you can still enjoy sticky or hard-to-chew foods. Additionally, overdentures generally appear more natural-looking than traditional dentures. Dental implants attached to a crown or bridge can also appear and feel natural, functioning similarly to adding a crown to a natural tooth.
Who Can Get a Dental Implant?
Generally, anyone with good oral health can get a dental implant. However, there must be enough healthy jaw bone to hold the implant. When appropriate, patients may be candidates for bone grafting, where new bone tissue is added to the jaw. Then, dental implants may be a viable option.
Implant Alternative: Dental Bridge
Another option that can feel and function like natural teeth is a dental bridge. A tooth-supported bridge uses healthy natural teeth instead of a dental implant. As a result, the fixed bridge won’t slip or loosen, allowing you to speak and chew efficiently.
Dental bridges can look natural and are maintained just like your natural teeth. But, of course, each side of the bridge must attach to a healthy tooth. Your dentist can recommend whether a bridge or implant is appropriate for your comfort and oral health.
Learn More About Your Options
How your teeth look and feel can be as important as how they function. Fortunately, your dentist can recommend a treatment that helps you feel confident about your smile. At Palermo Village Dental, we offer same-day crowns and dental implants so you can return to normal activities as soon as possible. Our mission is to ensure our patients feel cared for and satisfied with their oral health. Book an appointment to learn about dental implants and your options for a healthier smile.