Over 30% of Americans are missing at least one tooth. That’s over 100 million people.
But few people want to be missing teeth.
Having a missing tooth hurts your confidence and self-esteem. Plus, it could lead to a misaligned bite and other serious health issues over time.
That’s why many people choose to replace their missing teeth with artificial ones. There are many different options for tooth replacement, including dentures and even gold teeth.
But the most permanent and realistic form of tooth replacement is dental implants.
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth that works like a real one. It usually has a titanium root that’s embedded in the jaw bone on top of which sits an abutment and an artificial crown.
Of course, you can get partial dental implants, too. For example, sometimes all you need is a new crown.
In any case, dental implants look so similar to real teeth that nobody will notice that they’re actually fake. They’re also very stable and reliable.
Benefits of Dental Implants
With dental implants, there’s no need to be afraid of an incomplete set of teeth. You can speak, eat, and smile with confidence.
Dental implants also prevent your jawbone from shrinking. When you have missing teeth, your outer teeth tend to fill in the gaps and your jaw grows smaller in the process. Dental implants prevent this from happening and also keeps your face from sagging prematurely.
Lastly, dental implants can last longer than other forms of tooth replacement. They last 20+ years. That’s why they are also more expensive, the cost ranging anywhere from $800 to $6000 per implant.
Things to Know Before Getting Dental Implants
Getting dental implants is a big decision. Before you do, there are a few things you should know:
- If you are allergic to titanium, make sure to get metal-free zirconia implants. Zirconia is a very durable metal like titanium.
- Don’t get dental implants if your jawbone is still growing or you’re still a child. Otherwise, you’ll have to get them removed when your jaw outgrows them.
- If you smoke, quit smoking at least 2 weeks before the implant surgery. It’s best to quit for good, but you definitely don’t want to be smoking during the procedure.
- Getting dental implants is a long process. There’s the initial consultation, planning, examinations, surgery, and recovery. If you decide to go through with it, know that you’re in it for the long haul.
- Before you can get dental implants, your surgeon will need to evaluate your full dental and medical history. So be prepared to disclose both.
- Depending on the state of your current teeth, the dental implant procedure may require tooth extraction or bone grafting.
- The surgeon will give your mouth an anesthetic, so the surgery itself won’t hurt. However once the pain medications wear off, you may experience some pain during the recovery.
- Recovery lasts 2 to 4 months, during which time you’ll wait for implants to fuse with your bone. To ease the pain during recovery, take ibuprofen and keep a diet of smooth foods like applesauce and liquid.
- After the implants are in place, the doctor will attach the artificial crowns during the final restoration stage.
- Once the entire process is complete, be sure to brush your dental implants just like you would any of your regular teeth. This will protect them from bacteria.
- Keep seeing a dentist for regular checkups. They can help make sure your dental implants stay healthy over time.
Whatever you do, you want to make sure you find an experienced prosthodontist to do the job. Getting dental implants is a major procedure that requires the right training and experience. Do your research and find a qualified doctor near you.
If you keep good care of them, your dental implants could last you the rest of your life. So treat them well and you’ll have a higher quality of life.