Whether it is due to an accident or poor oral health, you may either find that you have a tooth or a tooth that needs to be pulled. If this is the case, different replacement methods need to be considered. It can be extremely dangerous to your overall oral health to not have a gap between teeth filled. While there are different options for the replacement of missing teeth, one of the best options available is the placement of dental implants.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are dental prosthetics that are used to replace one or more missing teeth. These prosthetics involve the placement of a titanium screw or metal frame below the gumline to hold false teeth in place. Dental implants help to replicate both the look and feel of natural teeth.
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Why You May Need a Tooth Replacement
Having a tooth fully replaced is often a last resort for dentists. If a tooth is damaged, most dentists will attempt to repair the tooth. This may include the placement of a dental crown, or other appliances that help to restore the integrity of the tooth. If a tooth is too damaged or decayed, though, the tooth will need to be extracted. From there, the dentist and you need to consider replacement options.
A replacement also will be necessary if a tooth has fallen out, or if a tooth has been knocked out due to some form of injury. While people often ignore these missing teeth, this is a huge mistake!
For both accidents and extractions, the tooth or teeth need to be replaced as soon as possible. If left unrepaired, various forms of damage can occur to surrounding healthy teeth, gums and even the jawbone. The surrounding teeth will migrate over time. This may lead to crowding, impacting of healthy teeth, gum disease and tooth decay. The migration of teeth can make it difficult to take proper care of your oral health—as it becomes difficult to brush and floss certain areas. This, in turn, leads to the growth of bacteria. Having a missing tooth or set of teeth can also lead to deterioration of the jawbone, as the bone tissue begins to disintegrate.
No matter which form of replacement your dentist and you decide to go with, it is imperative to have a missing tooth or set of teeth replaced for your ongoing oral health.
Why Dental Implants?
Dental implants are an excellent option for the replacement of a missing tooth or set of teeth. Many dentists and patients prefer dental implants for a variety of reasons, including their durability, appearance and longevity. Because dental implants are rooted in place, they are much stronger than other replacement options. This allows patients to bite and chew much like they did before the placement of their dental implants.
It is important to note that dental implants aren’t an option for all patients. Some patients experience bone deterioration or damage that is severe enough that a dental implant can’t be placed. If this is the case, other options (such as the placement of a dental bridge), will need to be considered.
In some cases, bone grafting may be an option for the patient. This procedure helps to strengthen the jawbone, and stimulate growth. Bone grafting procedures aren’t guaranteed to work, though. Still, they may be a good option for patients that would like dental implants, but don’t have the bone tissue to support dental implants.
The Dental Implant Placement Process
The dental implant placement process begins with a trip to the dentist due to a tooth falling out or being knocked out, or a trip to the dentist that is required due to poor oral health. If a dentist needs to, they will extract the broken or decayed tooth. The dentist will then take a look at the integrity of the jawbone, and consider the replacement options available to the patient. They will discuss the options with the patient, including the advantages, disadvantages and costs. If a patient’s jawbone has deteriorated, the dentist will check to see if bone grafting is an option. Once the decision is made, healing time will be given for any extractions. There also may be time given for the bone grafting to take.
Once the jawbone is healed, the dentist will provide an anesthetic and then drill into the bone of the patient and place a titanium screw or set of screws. They also may place a metal frame. Healing caps will be provided while the patient heals. This may take 4 to 6 months.
Once the dental implant has properly fused with the bone, the dentist will remove the healing caps and place the permanent false teeth. The dentist will check the appearance of the prosthetic, and will ensure the appearance and strength of the dental implant or implants are up to par. The patient will then go home with their new tooth or teeth!
Types of Dental Implants
There a couple of main types of implants that a dentist may choose between—endosteal and subperiosteal. Both of these options can be helpful, and which option is chosen will depend on the needs of the particular patient.
Endosteal implants involve the placement of titanium rods in the jawbone, while subperiosteal implants involve the placement of a metal frame. Single or multiple teeth can be replaced with implants. For some patients, entire rows of teeth can be replaced with implant dentures.
Insurance Coverage and Costs
Some insurance plans will at least partially cover the cost of implants. It’s important to check with your insurance company before the procedure. You’ll also want to make sure to stay in-network. Different procedures have different costs, so you’ll need to discuss the price of the implant procedure with your dentist.