While it’s optimal to keep all of your natural teeth, there may be a situation in which one or more of your teeth are knocked out or need to be extracted. When this happens, you’ll need to consider replacement options that are available to avoid further oral health problems. One option for tooth or teeth replacement is dental implants.
A dental implant is a dental prosthetic that requires the placement of a false tooth (called a dental crown) to replace a tooth that is missing or has been pulled. Dental implants are unique in that they are a permanent fixture. Dental crowns are held in place via an abutment, which is connected to a titanium rod. This rod is fused to the jawbone in a way that keeps it in place—even under great stress.
The placement of dental implants may come about because of a few different reasons.
One of the most common reasons patients have implants placed is poor oral hygiene. Without proper brushing, rinsing, and flossing, a tooth can become severely compromised and decayed. If the tooth decay isn’t addressed early enough, it can become worse and worse. Eventually, it may get to the point where the tooth can no longer be saved. If this happens, the tooth is extracted. From there, replacement options can be considered (including dental implants).
Another reason for the placement of a dental implant or implants is an accident. There are certain accidents that occur that either knock the patient’s teeth out or damage them to the point in which they cannot be repaired. If they are too damaged to repair, a dentist may decide to pull the tooth or teeth of a patient. Otherwise, if the tooth has been knocked out or has fallen out, the dentist will simply need to check to see if the patient is a good candidate for dental implants.
When a tooth or teeth need to be replaced, there are a couple of options that are common—dental implants and dentures. While many people think of dentures as full teeth replacements, they can actually be used for partial replacement. Likewise, implants can be used for the repair and replacement of multiple teeth.
There is actually an option that involves both implants and dentures—implant retained dentures. For one tooth or a small portion of teeth, though, this may not be the best choice.
More often, dentures are not attached, allowing the patient to remove them at any time. This can make dentures difficult for eating and even speech since they aren’t as secure. Dental implants, on the other hand, are firmly placed. This allows for more durability and a stronger bite.
Ultimately the choice between dentures and implants comes down to a few factors. You may or may not be a candidate for implants. If you aren’t, dentures may be your only option. Cost also may be a factor. Speak with your dentist about which choice is best for you if you need to have one or more teeth replaced.
The process of placing a dental implant begins with a consultation. Your dentist will look at the extent of the damage that has occurred. If you have a damaged tooth from an accident or you have severe cavities and decay, your dentist will consider if the tooth is worth saving or not. Most dentists prefer to save a portion of the natural tooth if possible. If it cannot be saved, it will be extracted.
Once your dentist has determined that you are a good candidate for dental implants, they will set an appointment with you for the initial procedure. This involves the placement of a titanium rod in your jawbone. Over around six to twelve weeks the rod will fuse with your jawbone, becoming secure. The dentist will then place the abutment and the dental crown.
Dental implants last a long time, which makes them a great long-term option for tooth replacement.
Once you’ve had your dental implant or implants placed, it’s important to take good care of them. While a dental implant is not a natural tooth, it can still be damaged. Dental implants are tough, but they can be damaged by food in the same way your natural teeth can.
Keep in mind that your dental implant only replaces the tooth—not the gums around the tooth. You need to continue to take good care of your gums around the implant—which means continuing to brush and floss regularly. The same is true if multiple implants are placed, or if an entire denture is implanted.
Care for your dental implant or implants like you would a natural tooth. There is no need for special treatment.
Whether or not you are a candidate for dental implants depends on a variety of factors. First, your dentist will check to see if dental implants are your only option. Replacing an entire tooth is a last resort. From there, the dentist will check your jawbone and other factors to determine if the implant can be placed.
Once your dentist has decided that you are a good candidate, you’ll need to speak with your insurance company about coverage for the procedure. Not all insurance providers cover this procedure and even if they do, the coverage may not be excellent. If your insurance company doesn’t cover it or doesn’t cover enough of it, you may need to either discuss other options with your dentist or see if there is a way to cover the payment over time.
If you have a missing tooth or teeth, or if your teeth are very decayed/damaged, make sure to schedule an appointment today. Don’t allow the problem to get worse! From there your dentist can take a look and see if you are a good candidate for dental implants.