A missing tooth can make you feel self-conscious about your smile, but many people don’t realize that it can have repercussions for your health, too.
A large gap in your teeth can cause the remaining teeth to become crooked or misaligned, putting you at a higher risk of problems like tooth decay. Your facial muscles can become visibly imbalanced from chewing on one side, and you might find yourself with jaw pain or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
If you’re missing one or more of your natural teeth, there are a number of options for restoring your smile and protecting your dental health. The most popular solution is a dental implant, which involves affixing artificial teeth, bridges, or dentures to a metal screw implanted into your jaw bone.
Implants are an attractive option because they offer a very natural look and, unlike removable bridges or dentures, they won’t move around your mouth when you talk or eat. They also don’t require the surrounding teeth to be filed down, as they would be with traditional bridges.
How do dental implants work?
There are two approved types of dental implants — endosteal and subperiosteal.
An endosteal implant is placed directly into your jaw bone. After a short healing period, a titanium post is connected to the implant. As the gum tissue heals again, the implant fuses with the jaw bone, after which the tooth (or bridge or denture) is attached to the post.
A subperiosteal implant is attached to the jaw bone just below the gum line using a metal frame, which already contains the post. The post protrudes through the gums as they heal and the implant fuses with the jaw bone. When the tissue is completely healed, the tooth is attached.
The whole process typically takes around 2-4 months, but this depends on the type of implant you receive. If you have more than one tooth missing, you may need to have a post fitted for each new tooth, but if the teeth are adjacent, one post may be able to support multiple teeth.
Are dental implants painful?
No. Your implants will be fitted under local anesthetic so you won’t feel any pain, although you will feel some pressure.
You will likely feel a little pain or discomfort after the procedure as your anesthetic wears off. However, this doesn’t last long and most patients find that over-the-counter pain medicine is more than enough to manage their pain.
How long do dental implants last?
Dental implants are technically a ‘permanent’ solution, but it’s important to note that they’re not guaranteed to last forever. Your dental health and hygiene will have a huge impact on the lifespan of your implants, so take care of them as you would a natural tooth!
How do I take care of my dental implants?
Like natural teeth, artificial teeth are vulnerable to plaque and gum disease, too. Take care of them by brushing and flossing twice daily, keeping sugary foods and drinks to a minimum, and having six-monthly dentist check-ups. If you play sports, you can also protect your implants with a mouthguard.
Are dental implants suitable for everyone?
As with all treatments, there are some people for whom dental implants would not be suitable. For example, if you have bone loss from periodontal disease, then the implant wouldn’t be able to fuse with your jaw. We recommend having a full check-up with your dentist first to assess your suitability and treat any problems that might compromise your implants.
Are implants expensive?
They can be, but our patients typically consider them to be a very rewarding investment. Not only do dental implants improve their confidence immensely, but they find that they actually save money long-term on the treatment of dental and health problems resulting from missing teeth.
You should be aware that many insurers consider dental implants a cosmetic treatment and are unwilling to cover the costs. It may be wise to discuss your proposed treatment with your insurance provider first to check your coverage.
Restore your smile with dental implants by All Bright Dental of NY
Gennadiy Kravets, DMD leads All Bright Dental of NY, serving patients in Mamaroneck, New York, and Stamford, Connecticut. If you’re missing a tooth, or you want to know more about dental implants, we’re happy to talk you through the options for restoring your smile. Call us now or book an appointment online.