For over 30 years, dental implants have been used to replace teeth missing and badly damaged teeth. With dental implants, you can eat, laugh, sneeze, and live as if they are your real teeth.
Dental implants are not only a reliable tooth restoration, they are also the strongest tooth replacement option. While dental implants are unparalleled by any other prosthetic tooth restoration treatment, you might be wondering “how well dental implants hold up compared to real teeth.”
This question doesn’t necessarily have a black and white answer. It depends on your individual dental health, bone strength, and the current strength of your natural teeth.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are metal posts or frames that are surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath your gums. Once in place, they allow your dentist to mount replacement teeth onto them.
The Strength of Your Jawbone Contributes to Strength of Your Implant
Dental implants function in essentially the same way as your real teeth. Instead of natural tooth roots, your tooth is held in with a titanium implant post that is surgically implanted in your jawbone.
Over time, your jawbone heals in and around the titanium implant through a process called osseointegration. The strength of your jawbone, and your jaw’s ability to heal around the implant directly influence the strength and stability of the implant.
Unlike natural teeth, your implant will function differently, because it is anchored into the bone, rather than by the tooth’s roots in the gums. Natural teeth are allowed some movement since they are attached to the gums with ligaments, while dental implants should not move at all. In some contexts, your dental implant could be stronger and withstand more pressure than your teeth.
For instance, if you’re dealing with gum disease and tooth decay, then your teeth will be less stable in your mouth. Teeth in a gum diseased mouth are likely to move around in your gum-line and feel unstable when biting into hard foods. At the same time, even though dental implants can remain sturdy and strong in your mouth, they are actually susceptible to infection as well.
The primary way to keep your dental implants healthy and strong is by keeping your gums and jawbone healthy and strong. This is why patients often need to undergo a bone graft before receiving dental implants. Bone grafts strengthen your jawbone, so it is more equipped to heal around the titanium implant.
The Importance of Bone Grafts for Strong Dental Implants
The idea of receiving a bone graft might seem scary. However, even though the term “bone graft” might seem daunting, it is actually one of the most positive things you can do to restore your dental health after undergoing tooth loss.
When a tooth is extracted or lost, the underlying bone no longer has anything to support its structure. As time passes, the bone will begin to dwindle, until there’s a ridge in the jaw bone. In the area where the tooth was lost, the jaw bone and gum tissue will be significantly lower in elevation than the surrounding bone. When this goes untreated, the surrounding jawbone can become weak, putting your other teeth at risk of becoming loose and falling out.
Bone grafts are a simple procedure that can combat this problem. Bone grafts have existed for a long time, as a way to strengthen the bone in a given area. For bone grafts in the jawbone, we simply take a small sample of bone from another area of your body, then transplant the new bone to the diminished area in the jawbone. This process triggers the regeneration of bone and bonds the grafted tissue with the existing jawbone tissue.
This process allows the dental implant to have a higher chance of integrating properly with the jawbone, decreasing the risk of it becoming loose or falling out. The most convenient part about bone grafts is that they can be performed during the first phase of your dental implant treatment, so you won’t need to worry about making extra appointments.
What Is Involved in Getting a Dental Implant?
The first step in the dental implant process is the development of an individualized treatment plan. The plan addresses your specific needs and is prepared by a team of professionals who are specially trained and experienced in oral surgery and restorative dentistry. This team approach provides coordinated care based on the implant option that is best for you.
Next, the tooth root implant, which is a small post made of titanium, is placed into the bone socket of the missing tooth. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implanted metal post, anchoring it securely in the jaw. The healing process can take from six to 12 weeks.
Once the implant has bonded to the jawbone, a small connector post — called an abutment — is attached to the post to securely hold the new tooth. To make the new tooth or teeth, your dentist makes impressions of your teeth and creates a model of your bite (which captures all of your teeth, their type, and arrangement). The new tooth or teeth is based on this model. A replacement tooth, called a crown, is then attached to the abutment.
Instead of one or more individual crowns, some patients may have attachments placed on the implant that retain and support a removable denture.
How Painful Are Dental Implants?
Most people who have received dental implants say that there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure. Local anesthesia can be used during the procedure, and most patients report that implants involve less pain than a tooth extraction.
How Do I Care for Dental Implants?
Dental implants require the same care as real teeth, including brushing, flossing, rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash, and regular dental check-ups.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.