At Family Dentistry and Aesthetics, Drs. Teel and Gilbert enjoy bringing out the beauty and harmony in each patient’s smile. For our patients with missing teeth or traditional dentures, we usually suggest dental implants, to replace teeth in a way that preserves dental function and an attractive appearance.
If you are interested in learning more about dental implants, contact our Fort Wayne, Indiana dental office at 260-432-0561 for a consultation with one of our dentists.
What is a dental implant?
Natural teeth consist of two parts: a root and a crown. The crown masticates food and is protected by enamel, and the root is based in the jaw, where connective tissues keep it from sliding out of place. A dental implant is a replacement root, usually made from non-toxic bio-compatible titanium. Unlike traditional prosthetics before implants, implants actually fuse with your jaw, to provide stability and more natural functioning. An abutment is placed on top of the implant to secure either a single replacement crown, dental bridge, or partial or full denture.
Dental implants require oral surgery and a minimum of three months’ healing time, during which the implant permanently fuses with the jaw bone (a process known as osseointegration). Though it may take longer than other options, most patients feel dental implants are worth the wait because they provide unparalleled support, so prosthetics feel and act more like natural teeth.
For Single Tooth Replacement
If you have lost a single tooth to decay or an injury, dental implants can be used to give you a natural-looking replacement. The implant goes into the empty socket, and, when it is healed an abutment and crown are attached, so you are left with a permanent replacement tooth. The dental implant restores the function and appearance of your tooth so well that you may even forget it’s not your original tooth.
For Multiple Missing Teeth
For patients missing three teeth in a row, two dental implants can be used to hold a bridge. Dental implant-based bridges are superior to conventional bridges for one chief reason: they do not rely on adjacent healthy teeth for support, and thus have no long-term impact on the health of those teeth. With a traditional bridge, years of providing support can weaken crowned teeth; an implant-based bridge supports itself in the jaw.
When a patient still has a number of healthy teeth left, implants can hold a partial denture that replaces missing teeth on one or both sides of the arch. Each case is different, but if you have healthy teeth you wish to preserve, dental implants may be the most reliable and conservative treatment option.
Better Than Dentures
Most patients find that implant-supported dentures are far easier to adapt to than conventional dentures. Non-attached dentures adhere via suction or adhesive gels, so the patient usually needs several days or weeks to get used to them. Some never adjust to wearing a traditional denture, and the daily struggle lowers quality of life. Implant-based dentures, on the other hand, feel more like natural teeth and don’t require you to re-learn how to chew and speak. Patients also report that implant-based dentures do not shift or slip accidentally, causing you embarrassment. The denture snaps into place over the implant bases, and will not come loose until you remove it for cleaning.
A Permanent Fix for Missing Teeth
One benefit to implant-supported dentures is the fact that they never need to be re-fitted, relined, or otherwise altered. With traditional dentures, patients must intermittently have the lower arch refitted to accommodate the bone and soft tissue changes that occur in the mouth when teeth are missing. With implant-supported dentures, however, the jawbone does not recede, so properly placed implants rarely need to be replaced or adjusted. Furthermore, they prevent facial collapse, whereby the lower jaw slowly shrinks over a period of 10-20 years. Both the appearance and structure of your jaw bone remain the same.
Implant-supported dentures are also an excellent choice for patients who are unable to care for themselves fully. Traditional dentures can easily get lost, but implant dentures can be permanently attached to the implant bases, so your loved ones will never lose their teeth.
Dental implants may require surgery and a longer recovery period than other replacement teeth, but they can last a lifetime, with no additional maintenance beyond daily cleaning of the prosthetic.
To find out if dental implants are right for you, contact our Fort Wayne, Indiana dental office at 260-432-0561 for a consultation with one of our dentists.