Dental Implants are artificial tooth roots that are placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth, bridge or other restorations. Used in prosthetic dental surgery, implants are ideal for people who have lost a tooth due to age, injury or any other reason including poor oral hygiene. Dental Implants provide functional benefits almost completely as compared to the traditional dentures or bridgework. On the flip side, they are expensive, time consuming procedures normally not covered under insurance. So how does one decide which option is the best suited for their dental needs?
Dental Implants Vs Dentures
While both dentures and implants are viable solutions — they differ greatly in terms of wearer comfort, appearance and longevity. Some of the differences to be considered before taking a decision are given below
- Procedurally, placing dental implants does not affect or compromise the neighboring teeth in any way like dentures which require adjacent teeth to be altered to provide adequate support.
- Aesthetically, they are almost indistinguishable from your regular teeth and look and feel the same. Dentures are visible as such having to be readjusted over a period of time specially the lower dentures which loosen faster.
- With no danger of wobbling or giving way, implants give you the confidence to smile and eat without hesitation which you would not manage with a traditional bridge which sometimes causes visible gum recession, sores and mouth discomfort.
In terms of pricing, dentures are much cheaper even if one were to factor in the replacement costs not to mention the relative ease of getting a set made. Implants, on the other hand, are expensive treatments requiring multiple sittings over a period of months. But once completed, implants can last you a lifetime if cared for well and will feel just like your real set.
Different Kinds Of Implants
While there are several kinds of classifications, one common way to categorize them is the osseointegrated implant and the fibrointegrated implant. The osseointegrated is the more popular one because it allows the implant to form a structural and functional connect with the living bone. It involves the use of titanium alloy fixtures that take the place of the actual root of the tooth. These literally grow into the bone and are said to be `osseointegrated’ giving the procedure its name.
Procedure And Success Factors
Dental implants, while an outpatient surgery, require local and in some cases general anesthesia depending on the number of implants and need for complementary procedures like bone grafting or sinus lifting. The procedure normally is spread out over a few months since it usually requires the bone to grow and fuse with the implant. Of course in some cases, it can be completed in just one sitting lasting an hour.
The success of the operation is largely dependent on the skill of the team of operators but can also be affected by the patient’s oral hygiene and bone availability at the site. These procedures enjoy a high success rate of about 95%.
The implant is deemed to be a failure if it is lost, shows movement or causes bone loss in excess of 1mm in the first year and 0.2 mm in the year after. This is attributed to reasons that include infection (caused at the time of or after the operation) or poor placement. Chances of failure are higher in smokers which is why they are advised to quit smoking before going in for this expensive treatment. In very rare cases, failure can happen due to wear and tear over time.
Caring For Your Implant
In the light of the above, the success and longevity of an implant depends on how well you look after it. Implants need to be looked after like regular teeth and require the same oral hygiene – brushing and flossing and periodic visits to the doctor. Along with this you need to follow the specific instructions relating to your implant surgery to prevent any kind of failure.
It is also advisable to avoid exposure to hard candies or items which could cause damage. Tooth staining products like caffeine and tobacco are strictly prohibited.