Nearly 70% of adults between the ages of 35-44 have lost at least one tooth, and the rate of tooth loss only rises the older people get. In fact, a single missing tooth can lead to instability in the entire jaw, increasing your risk of losing your other teeth as you get older. This is why proper replacement is necessary, and dental implants are the best way to prevent bone loss and completely replace your missing tooth.
If you’ve lost or damaged one or more teeth, it’s important to get it replaced as soon as possible to prevent additional issues. Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton and Dr. Peter Grinc in Washington, DC, provide dental implant consultations as well as restorations after dental implantation by a surgeon, to give you back your smile.
Dental implants 101
Dental implants refer to the surgical process of implanting a titanium tooth root. We’ll refer you to an oral surgeon for this portion of the procedure.
Your implantologist will drill into the jawbone and place a titanium post in the socket of your old tooth root. If your jawbone has degraded, a bone graft can be done beforehand. This gives the implant something to anchor to.
Once the post is implanted, your jawbone heals around it. In the context of implants, this process is known as osseointegration, where the bone forms around a load-bearing implant. Dental implants are made using biocompatible metals like titanium to encourage this process.
A properly healed implant will be completely integrated with your jawbone, much like a normal tooth root. Then, the post can be extended using an abutment, which protrudes from your jawbone and allows the placement of a false tooth. You’ll come back to our office for this final restoration.
Benefits of dental implants
There are two primary benefits of dental implants: functionality and longevity.
Dental implants are preferred over other replacement options because they are functionally identical to natural teeth. The benefits of this include:
- They look and feel like natural teeth
- They function like natural teeth, and are just as sturdy
- They require no additional care besides normal oral hygiene
- They require no special diet; you can eat what you want
- They don’t get in the way of chewing or speaking
However, the biggest benefit of dental implants is largely unseen. The roots of your teeth are responsible for stimulating the jawbone, which encourages circulation and prevents bone loss.
When you lose a tooth, the jawbone socket is left empty. Without an implant to fill the gap, the bone around the empty socket begins to disintegrate, which causes your other teeth to shift and become unstable. This can lead to misaligned bites, crooked teeth, and even further tooth loss.
Dental implants prevent this issue by providing a new “root” to stimulate the jawbone. This not only provides you with a new tooth, but protects your existing teeth as well.
Candidates for dental implants
While dental implants are widely considered the best replacement option, they aren’t perfect for everyone. Health issues, age, and bone loss can cause people to choose bridges or dentures over implant surgery.
The ideal candidate for dental implant surgery is healthy enough to recover from surgery, and young enough to benefit from permanent replacements. You’ll need to have enough jawbone to support the implant, or be willing to undergo bone grafts. Your chances of a successful implant go up if you are a nonsmoker and have good oral hygiene and healthy gums.
Do you think you’re a good candidate for dental implants? To learn more about the procedure and recovery, call Dr. Culotta-Norton at 202-833-1111, or visit the contact page for more information.