If you need to replace your natural teeth, then dental implants prove to be one of your most convenient options. While other tooth replacement options (quite literally) don’t get to the root of the problem, dental implants help you to replace your missing teeth with a new, prosthetic tooth roots holding them in place. This means that your dental implants will be much the same as natural teeth, and won’t require special care.
What Is a Dental Implant?
The simple explanation of what dental implants are, is that they’re prosthetic tooth roots. Dental implants are special titanium posts surgically inserted into the jaw to hold dental crowns, bridges and even dentures in place.
Dentists generally prefer to replace a missing tooth with implants whenever possible, as replacing the root tissue of a tooth has health benefits. Because the implant integrates with your natural bone tissue through osseointegration – a process where the implant is accepted into your body as if it were a real tooth root – dental implants help stimulate bone growth. This prevents your face from developing a sunken in appearance as you age.
How Are Dental Implants Used?
Dental implants are most often used to hold permanent replacement teeth in place. A standard dental implant is a single tooth with an abutment and crown fixed to it. This tooth is not removable, and acts exactly like a real tooth. However, dental implants can also be used as an alternative to dentures. In this case, an entire arch of teeth is replaced using dental implants.
Lastly, dental implants can be used to hold removable dentures in place. With implant-supported dentures, your removable dentures will clip onto dental implants inserted into the jaw to hold them in place. You will, however, still need to remove your dentures before going to bed and follow other denture care best practices.
Why Are Dental Implants Better?
What kind of tooth replacement you decide on will depend on recommendations by your dentist, your budget and desired outcome.
But if you go for a permanent tooth replacement option, your quality of life will be exactly the same as before you lost your natural teeth. Permanent dental implants, like single tooth implants and all-on-4s, don’t need special care other than your normal twice-daily brushing routine. However, if you need to replace all your teeth with all-on-4s, it could be beneficial to visit your oral hygienist for exact brushing instructions.
Apart from this, the lifetime of permanent tooth replacement options (like single tooth implants and all-on-4s) is usually more than 20 years, and most patients never need to replace their implants. So although permanent tooth replacement can seem expensive, it’s definitely an investment that could save you a lot of money and discomfort because you won’t need as much future dental work.
In contrast, all non-permanent tooth replacement options – like dentures and dental bridges – usually need to be replaced at some time during a patient’s life. Especially in the case of dentures, where many patients often have to return to their dentists to adjust the fit.
How Long Does It Take to Get Dental Implants?
How long it takes to get dental implants will depend on a number of factors, including:
- What kind of dental implant a patient is getting: standard, mini or all-on-4s.
- The patient’s jaw health: when bone grafting is necessary, the procedure takes longer.
- Healing time required after each phase of treatment: some patients’ jaw tissue might heal a little faster than others. Your prosthodontist will check that your jaw tissue is sufficiently healed every time before starting the next phase of treatment.
- Learn more about our Dental Implants in a Day procedure here.
Ironically enough, patients that only want to replace a single tooth with a standard implant post can expect to wait longer for their new tooth. This is because patients who replace only one tooth are sometimes likely to need bone grafting.
Single tooth implants can take about 6-10 months from start to finish. Although it could take a bit longer than 10 months in some case, and less than 6 months in other cases. To get an accurate estimate of how long the procedure will take you, it’s best to talk to your prosthodontist.
With all-on-4s, dentists use a special implant technique that allows them to angle the implants to insert them into areas of the jaw with denser bone tissue. Because of this, most patients who get all-on-4 implants don’t need any bone grafting. During this procedure, patients only have one surgery and a short healing time before getting their permanent new teeth.
If you would like to know more about tooth replacement options with dental implants, it’s best to talk to a professional prosthodontist in-person. Feel free to schedule your first free consultation with Dr. Stone to learn more about the costs, treatment options and other considerations when getting dental implants.