Millions of Americans have missing teeth. Instead of dentures, many are choosing dental implants despite the high price tag. Why? Implants are the closest thing there is to a natural tooth. If you’ve lost a tooth in the past, you’d have to get a dental bridge. This involves cutting down the two healthy teeth next to the gap. Implants avoid this, and they also stimulate and preserve the jawbone.
Because the implant becomes part of your jawbone in a process called osseointegration, there’s no mobility. Unlike dentures that can be removed and bridges that are anchored to adjacent tooth, implants fill the space of the missing tooth root and provide stimulation. Stimulation prevents loss of bone in the area and low bone density.
If you’re leery of introducing foreign material into your body, you can rest easy. Implants are typically made of biocompatible materials like titanium and ceramic. The oral surgeon also uses a drill on low power to prevent heating and damaging the bone. When performed properly, you can expect more than 90% success rate for dental implants.
But implants are not for everybody. You need dense bone of sufficient height and width on the implant site, and you need to be in good health. The procedure involves surgery, so there’s still a risk. One implant complication is peri-implantitis or infection of the tissues surrounding the implant. There’s also a risk of nerve damage that can cause pain and injury to the sinus cavity and surrounding area. If the implant breaks, the area is infected.
These complications are rare, however. To make sure that implants perform as they should and last a long time, the oral surgeon should be experienced and the candidate should be selected carefully. The American Dental Association does not recognize implant dentistry as a specialty, so there’s no separate group that monitors a dentist’s qualifications.