Dental implants are the best tooth replacement option available. If you have lost a tooth and wish you could get it back, that’s almost exactly what dental implants offer. They look like natural teeth, function like natural teeth, and only require the same care as natural teeth: brush, floss, and see your dentist. Like natural teeth, they can last a lifetime with proper care. And almost everyone is a candidate for dental implants.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants are truly a marvel of modern dentistry because they are more like natural teeth than any other tooth replacement option. That means that they:
- Look like natural teeth
- Bite and chew like natural teeth
- Easy maintenance
- Can last a lifetime
Dental implants are anchored in your jawbone just like your natural tooth roots. That’s why they can look just like a natural tooth. And with an attractive crown placed on top with your natural gums growing up around it, your dental implants can be indistinguishable from natural teeth.
And because they’re anchored in the jawbone, you can eat all the foods you currently enjoy. You won’t have to give up steak or apples or corn on the cob. Eat everything that makes you happy.
Dental implants don’t have to be removed for soaking at your bedside. They stay in your mouth, and you treat them just like your natural teeth. Brush and floss every day, and make sure you visit your dentist regularly. If you are high risk, we might recommend a few more visits than usual, but that’s really the only change.
And if you do take care of your dental implants, they can last a lifetime–more on this later.
Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Another benefit of dental implants is that most people are candidates for the procedure. If you’re an adult who’s lost one or more teeth and are healthy enough for surgery, you are a candidate for dental implants, although the best candidates:
- Have no gum disease
- Have adequate bone in the implant area
- Are nonsmokers
- Aren’t taking medications that can impair healing
If you have gum disease or inadequate bone, additional procedures may be necessary to ensure you get good results from your procedure.
Smoking can increase your risk of implant failure. You will be asked to quit smoking temporarily to allow your implants to heal. It’s best if you quit smoking altogether so your implants are more likely to last.
We will talk to you about your medications, since some of these can increase your risk of dental implant failure. The most common of these are antidepressants and osteoporosis medications.
The Dental Implant Procedure
The dental implant procedure occurs in several stages. First, we will treat gum disease or perform bone grafts if necessary to prepare your implant site. We will often extract teeth–if necessary–at the time the implants are placed.
The implant procedure can take from one to eight hours depending on the number of implants being placed and how complicated your case is. Once the implants are placed, you will want to take the rest of the day off. Although some people will be able to go back to work the next day, most will want to take a couple days off to rest and heal.
If your implants are stable, you will get replacement teeth on top of them the same day they are placed. Otherwise, you will have a different cosmetic option to fill the gap in your smile–you never have to be without a tooth.
Your implant will bond with the bone over the next six months. Once the implant is fully bonded to the bone, we will place your permanent crown on it.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
We are serious when we say that dental implants can last a lifetime. In the largest study of dental implant longevity, it was found that 93% of dental implants last at least 17 years, and smaller 20-year studies find similar survival rates, 90-95%. And we know anecdotally that dental implants can last much, much longer. The first dental implant patient had his implants for more than 40 years before he died. The second person to receive dental implants has had them for about 50 years, and he’s still alive.
How long your dental implants last depends on how well you care for them, as well as a little bit of luck, but it is likely that your dental implants will last 20 years, 30 years, or even the rest of your life. The dental crown on top of the implant may need to be replaced once or twice, but the implant root can remain firm.