Over the years. there have been many advancements in preventative dentistry. Unfortunately, despite best efforts, there are still those who suffer from missing or broken teeth. There are solutions that include fixed bridges held in by natural teeth, removable dentures, and dental implants. Each of these options has their pros and cons, however, dental implants have certain advantages the others lack.
Let's start with talking about how dental implants work. Implants can include a stand-alone tooth replacement, a fixed bridge to replace several teeth, or removable dentures held solidly in place with implants. The actual implant is a titanium fixture that replaces the root of a tooth. An abutment then connects a dental prosthetic, like a crown or a denture, to the implant. While the implant is permanent, the prosthetic is fixed or removable depending on the circumstances.
The benefits of implants include:
- It can last longer than other solutions. With proper care, implants can last a lifetime.
- Unlike removable dentures that sit on top of gums or crowns and bridges held in by natural teeth, implants bond to the jawbone and prevent the bone from melting away.
- Implants do not require damaging natural teeth. Unlike fixed bridgework, adjacent teeth are not used to support implants.
- Dental implants have the same look and feel as natural teeth, allowing you to comfortably eat your favorite foods.
- Since stand-alone implants work just like your normal teeth, you can brush and floss like normal, helping to keep the remaining teeth healthy.
- You can’t get cavities in a dental implant!
While dental implants seem to have just become popular recently, they have existed for more than 40 years. The procedure is now one of the gold standards for tooth replacement. All surgical procedures have some measure of risk, but the benefits of dental implants usually are far greater than the potential risks and are usually a better option than other solutions.
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.