Dental implants have been available for several decades, but you may not understand how these artificial teeth work or what your experience with dental implants will entail. Dr. Aaron Baldwin and Dr. Daron Praetzel of Arkansas Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons in Hot Springs wants their patients to know their tooth replacement options. They have provided the information below so that you can better understand dental implants including their structure, purpose, benefits, and the implant placement procedure.
Anatomy of a dental implant
To understand how dental implants work, you first need to grasp the configuration of a dental implant. Many people think of a dental implant as a single, unified prosthetic tooth. This is incorrect. The dental implant itself is a titanium post that mimics the root of a natural tooth. It contains a ribbed surface similar to a screw. Surgeons use titanium, because it is durable and integrates well into bone.
A piece called the abutment connects to the top of the implant. The abutment may be composed of various materials including titanium, ceramic, zirconium, or surgical steel. It acts as an attachment point for the crown, denture, or bridge that the dental implant will hold in place. Although you will not be able to see the dental implant post and abutment, these components stabilize your tooth replacement, and help make it permanent.
How do dental implants work for tooth replacement?
After a consultation and a complete oral examination with diagnostic imaging, the surgeon will then perform your dental implant procedure. The surgeon then inserts the implant posts into the bone of your jaw, and the process of osseointegration begins. This term refers to the bonding that occurs between your living bone and the titanium implant. Osseointegration provides stability and a secure fit for your implant just as a root does for a natural tooth.
The osseointegration process takes several months. In the meantime, you may have an attached temporary crown or dentures. Once osseointegration is complete and verified by your oral and maxillofacial surgeon, your dentist will provide you with your final restoration. Whether this restoration is a denture, crown, or bridge, your dentist will ensure that your restoration is custom-designed for you.
Dental implants vs. bridges
A common misconception about dental implants is that they can only replace a single tooth. In reality, dental implants can replace multiple teeth and even securely hold dentures to provide an entire arch of teeth.
If you need several missing teeth replaced, then your first instinct may be to seek a dental bridge. Before oral surgeons placed dental implants, dentists used bridges to treat cases of multiple missing teeth. Now dental implants have become the standard of care and are superior to bridges in several ways including durability, convenience, and aesthetics. If you want to hear more about dental implants, click on the following link to watch a video about dental implant surgery from the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
Implants are durable. While not completely indestructible, the implant post is unlikely to break or need replacement. Conventional tooth-born bridges, however, often fail due to recurrent cavities adjacent to the bridge abutment teeth due to the difficulty to clean under the bridge properly. Placement of dental implants helps to avoid cutting down natural teeth necessary to fabricate a bridge.
A bridge can make daily brushing and flossing difficult. As regular, at-home oral care is crucial, this inconvenience may compromise your dental health. Conversely, brushing and flossing are simple with dental implants. Since implants function like natural teeth, there is no difference in care between your implants and organic teeth.
Some patients become frustrated with their bridges when eating tough or stringy foods like steak or cooked spinach. You will not encounter this problem with dental implants. Your implants will function just like natural teeth, allowing you to enjoy whatever foods you desire.
Additionally, dental implants provide a cosmetic appearance superior to a bridge. No one will detect your dental implants from your smile, but a bridge may be visible. If you have concerns about your dental aesthetics, then dental implants are likely the better choice for tooth replacement.
Although cost may not be your primary concern, you may consider finances in your dental care decisions. Dental implants may cost slightly more than a bridge. However, in the long term, implants may prove to be the less costly choice. Due to their inferior durability, bridges fracture more easily than implants. The replacement costs of a bridge over a lifetime can add up to more than you would pay for a single, durable dental implant.
Finding a dental professional for implants
There are many answers to the question, “Where should I get dental implants?” You will want to ensure that your oral surgeon placing your dental implant(s) is qualified, trained, and has the expertise to place dental implants and providing the necessary aftercare. Deficiencies in surgical training or limited experience may result in complications or undesirable results.
The doctors at Arkansas Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons possess the expertise to perform the surgery to place your dental implant. Dr. Aaron Baldwin and Dr. Daron Praetzel are board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons, skilled in all the structural, functional, and aesthetic aspects of dental implant surgery. Schedule a consultation with Arkansas Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons to discuss the best treatment for you.