A missing tooth can be a nagging inconvenience. Not only does a missing tooth tamper with your perfect smile, missing teeth may also affect the way you speak, eat, and the future of your smile since gaps cause your other teeth to shift. The good news is there’s a cure for this problem. You can replace a missing tooth with a dental implant.
Implant dentistry is a popular option for replacing a missing tooth, but it’s not the only option you have.
Dentures conveniently rest on the gum line as a substitute for missing teeth. Some denture wearers only remove their dentures at night, while others only wear their dentures when they feel it’s necessary. Dentures are designed for easy wear and easy removal, but it’s not unusual for dentures to slip out of place. When this happens, food can get wedged between your dentures and your natural teeth or gums, causing pain and irritation.
A dental bridge fills the space between your teeth by anchoring itself on adjacent teeth to secure the integrity of the space, and keep nearby teeth from moving. Shifting teeth create new crevices for dental plaque to hide, which can lead to tooth decay and a host of subsequent dental problems.
Dental implants are titanium or ceramic posts surgically implanted into the jawbone where they act as an anchor for replacement teeth. A dental implant looks and feels like a natural tooth, allowing you to chew and speak like you did before you lost your tooth. Often, dental implants cost is a deciding factor in whether a patient will choose to get dental implants, or go with a more affordable teeth replacement option.
If your tooth hasn’t already been removed, that is usually the first step in the dental implant procedure. Tooth extraction is a relatively straightforward process, even if the tooth is broken or impacted. Your dentist will be able to extract your tooth in just a few minutes.
During the second step of dental treatment, your dentist will drill a hole into your jawbone and screw a titanium implant in place as the anchor for your new tooth. Don’t worry. It sounds worse than it is. Most patients will undergo this procedure quite comfortably with just a local anesthetic.
Here’s why dental implants can take months: After your dentist implants the post, the gum is secured over the dental implant and will remain covered long enough for the implant to fuse to the jawbone. This process, called osseointegration, usually takes several months to complete.
During this time, you may experience mild discomfort as the implant heals, but that’s to be expected anytime you have dental surgery.
The abutment is the portion of your implant to which your replacement tooth will eventually attach. It extends just above the gums.
In this stage of the dental implant procedure, your dentist will reopen your gums to expose the top of the post implanted during step 2. This time around, your dentist will attach an abutment, or extension.
Finally, your dentist will add a dental crown securely on top of the abutment. Your new tooth is extremely secure and will function just like any other tooth.
Although the conventional dental implant process usually takes several months to complete and involves multiple appointments, dental implant technology continues to advance. The result is options like single-visit dental implants, Nobel Teeth-In-An-HourTM and mini implants.
Dental implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth or all of them. Dental implants can also be used to anchor a bridge or dentures into place. If you need to have all your teeth replaced, implant-supported dentures are ideal. They provide more stability than traditional dentures and denture-topped dental implants cost less than what it will cost to replace lost teeth implant-supported crowns.
For the best results, continue practicing excellent oral hygiene, eating well. In order for your dental implants to be a success, you have to maintain a significant amount of jawbone. You may also choose to refrain from smoking. Discuss any pre-existing medical conditions you may have with your dentist. Your dentist will take your overall health into account when determining whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.
The cost of dental implants plays a key role for dental patients deciding whether to get dental implants. The cost of dental implants varies, but prices can range from $1,000 to $3,000 per implant. Most dental insurance plans consider the procedure cosmetic and don't cover costs. Compared to other popular solutions for missing teeth -- like dentures, partial dentures or bridges -- the cost of dental implants can make getting the procedure cost-prohibitive.
There are several factors you should consider as you’re making your decision on the right tooth replacement treatment.
First, dental implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth. With proper care, you may never have to replace them again. That means, your short-term investment may seem expensive, but in the long-term, you may actually end up paying less and spending less time on maintenance, replacement and repairs than you would with removable dentures.
Second, dental implants are more comfortable and more natural-looking than other solutions. They are, by far, the closest thing to your natural teeth that dentistry has to offer.
Even if you don't have the money to cover the cost of dental implants up front, you still have options. Most dental offices offer some form of in-office financing that will enable you to make payments over time. Some even offer low or no-interest plans to make the dental implant cost easier to manage. Be sure to ask your dentist about all your payment options.
Remember, if properly cared for, dental implants can last a lifetime. Although the dental implant can't get cavities, you still need to brush and floss the area to remove harmful bacterian and dental plaque buildup.
Schedule and keep your regular dental visits every six months. If you think dental implants might be right for you, talk to your dentist, or call 1-800-DENTIST to let us help you find a dentist who does dental implants near you.