Dental implants have evolved into what we in dentistry call the “gold standard” for tooth replacement. They’ve come a long way over the past few decades and have a lot more to offer than more conventional types of restorative treatments. But if you’re not quite sold on the idea of having an “artificial” tooth placed into your mouth, here are 10 dental implant facts that you might want to consider.
1. Dental Implants are Stronger Than Teeth
Tooth enamel is physically the strongest, hardest substance you’ll find in the entire human body. Dental implants are even stronger. Their titanium body can support even more biting pressure and weight than a healthy anatomical tooth.
What does that mean for you as an implant patient? In short, it means you don’t necessarily need a 1-to-1 ratio of dental implants to missing teeth. If you have a few teeth in a row that need to be replaced, our Raleigh implant dentist could theoretically place a pair of implants to support a multi-tooth bridge on top of them.
2. A Dental Implant Can Last for Your Entire Life
Most tooth replacement treatments (like partials or bridges) have to be updated and changed out every several years. But not dental implants. The extremely high success rate and integration with your body’s natural anatomy allow modern implant designs to become a permanent part of your facial structure.
The success of a well-maintained implant allows them to predictably last for several decades at a time. Hypothetically speaking, they should be able to last for the entire life of the patient. The one-time investment is something that offers a lifetime of benefits.
Even though dental implants can last your entire life, there is a small catch: you need to clean them daily. If you don’t have good oral hygiene or develop gum disease around the implant, the chances of your implant retention start to go down. You play a key role in how successful your investment will be.
3. Implants are Non-Invasive to Your Other Teeth
Any time you’re replacing a missing tooth with a traditional bridge, you’re having to permanently alter the teeth on either side of it. Even if those teeth are completely healthy and have never had work done to them, a layer of enamel is shaved down to create space for the bridge to fit over the tooth comfortably. And since bridges need to be updated every so often, this process can gradually weaken the supporting teeth.
Dental implants stand independent of other teeth in your mouth. Placing them next to a healthy tooth does not require any type of invasive procedure or reshaping to the natural tooth structure. The two “teeth” can co-exist alongside one another and natural structures are left intact.
Realistically, dental implants are the least-invasive permanent tooth replacement available.
4. They Help Preserve Natural Biting Patterns
Tooth loss can permanently alter your tooth alignment. Any time excessive space is created between teeth, the ones on either side nearly always drift out of alignment. Additionally, the opposing tooth that’s used to biting against the one that’s now missing will start to “super-erupt” out of its socket. In time, you have misaligned teeth and irregular biting patterns across your entire mouth.
By placing a dental implant into the space as soon as possible, you can help to preserve the natural biting patterns and tooth alignment throughout your entire smile.
5. Dental Implants are Biocompatible
Any time a foreign material is being placed into your body, it’s essential that it will be accepted by and compatible with your natural tissues. Dental implant components are extremely biocompatible and hypoallergenic, even for people who typically experience skin sensitivities or metal allergies.
In fact, the titanium that implants are made from is also used in other medical procedures like joint replacements. The unique way that our bodies accept titanium allows the structure to co-exist with your natural bony structures without unwanted side effects. The titanium can actually strengthen the bone in that specific area.
It is extremely rare and nearly unheard of for a person’s body to reject a dental implant.
6. Dental Implants Promote Better Bone Health
The titanium that dental implants are made from is something that triggers a natural “osseointegration” process in your bone. In other words, it stimulates your natural bone structures to form a new layer of bone against the dental implant, ultimately fusing it into place.
If you’re someone who has missing teeth, this benefit is important, because tooth loss also causes bone resorption or shrinkage. Because any time you lose teeth, you also lose the support in your jaw and facial profile. As a result, it can make your facial features look sunken-in or older than you really are. Bone loss will also mean weaker support around the teeth you still have, causing your jaws to “shorten”.
Placing an implant in the space left by a missing tooth promotes bone integrity and support of your facial profile. Essentially, you’re combatting the appearance of aging because you have a fuller bite and skeletal structure underneath your lips and cheeks.
7. They Have the Highest Success Rate in Dentistry
Statistically speaking, dental implants have about a 98% success rate. That leaves you with about a 2% chance of something going wrong. Typically, the cause for implant failure is related to the experience of the provider and lack of home care by the patient. Working with a skilled Raleigh implant dentist and being dedicated to your oral hygiene can significantly reduce your chances of something going wrong.
This 98% success rate is higher than most other modern restorative treatments. Including dental bridges, crowns, and fillings. So even if you’re not convinced that implants have been around long enough to invest in one, they’ve actually been used in dentistry for decades.
8. Getting Implants Installed Can be Comfortable
Thanks to advanced technology and the experience of our Raleigh implant dentists, getting dental implants placed can be far more comfortable than most people realize. In fact, it’s not uncommon to only need a small amount of local anesthetic (numbing medication) for simple implant installation.
Although implants are set directly into your bone, the only tissues with pain receptors in those areas are your gum tissues. Numbing your gums and creating a small opening to access the bone is really the extent of any potentially irritated spots you’ll notice during your recovery. Throughout the procedure itself, the only sensations you’ll likely feel are a bit of pressure.
For simple dental implant placement, most people take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and rinse with warm salt water to prevent post-operative discomfort. But otherwise, you can typically go about your normal routine.
9. Your Gums Need to be Healthy
Gum infections are the #1 reason for dental implant failure. Although you don’t technically get periodontal disease around implants, you can get an implant-specific version of the infection called “peri-implantitis”. Essentially if mild swelling and gingivitis symptoms go untreated, they can evolve into an inflammatory infection that causes the gums (and corresponding bone structures) to detach from the surface of your implant. Left untreated, peri-implantitis will eventually lead to failure of the entire implant.
Getting dental implants doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to oral hygiene. Even though they can’t get cavities, you still need to brush and floss them daily. Just like natural teeth, bacterial plaque can collect on the surface of your dental restorations. Great home care will reduce your chances of a secondary infection and implant loss.
10. Dental Implants Are Easy to Care For
Daily maintenance is basically the same for dental implants as it is for anatomical teeth. You want to brush and floss them daily to remove soft plaque before it calcifies into tartar. Use a soft toothbrush for at least two minutes twice a day, paying close attention to the gumlines around each implant restoration. Don’t scrub too aggressively (or use hard bristles) as it can be traumatic to your gum tissues.
Floss around each implant at least once a day. Wrap the strand around the tooth, rubbing it up and down the side in a taught “C” shape. It’s fine to let the floss slip just below the gumlines, as that’s where plaque tends to accumulate the most.
For multi-tooth implant restorations like bridges, All-on-4, or other hybrid appliances, you’ll want to either use a floss threader (to weave the floss underneath) or a water flosser. Water flossers are quite easy to use and capable of reaching places that traditional floss cannot.
Dental Implants in Raleigh
Raleigh Dental Arts offers comprehensive dental implant therapy, whether you’re missing one tooth or need to restore them all at once. Your tailored care plan will include an itemized outline of our recommendations, as well as the fees involved. We’ll help you maximize your insurance coverage as well as review flexible financing plans available.
Find out if dental implants are the missing tooth solution you’ve been searching for. Call our Raleigh dentists today to reserve a consultation!