Millions of older Americans experience the loss of most or all of their teeth. In fact, about 25 % of those over the age of 65 have no natural teeth left and most of these Americans rely on dentures to replace their missing teeth. Dental implants are another option for replacing missing teeth, but only a small percentage of older Americans have chosen to go with dental implants.
One reason is that many patients are under the impression that they are not a good candidate for dental implants. They may not have sufficient jawbone for placement of dental implants, or they may be heavy smokers or have untreated gum disease.
The reality is that most patients can be good candidates for dental implants, even if they are not a good candidate today. A good candidate must have sufficient jawbone to support the implant. Patients who have had missing teeth for years, even if they had a full or partial denture, may have suffered too much bone loss to be a current candidate for dental implants.
However, in most cases an oral surgeon can build up sufficient bone mass with a bone graft. The bone graft procedure is done in the oral surgeon’s office and is an effective way to build up bone in your jaw so that it can support an implant. Once the procedure is completed, the bone will be allowed to heal for six to eight months before the implant can be placed.
Untreated gum disease is another reason why a person may not be a good candidate for dental implants. However, once the gum disease has been resolved, most patients can move forward with dental implants. Your dentist will explain your treatment options for gum disease.
Finally, smoking has been shown to reduce outcomes, but it does not necessarily exclude you from consideration as a candidate for dental implants. If your oral and overall health is otherwise good, you may still be a good candidate. Your dentist can help you reduce or stop smoking or help you understand the risks to your dental implants presented by smoking.
Dentures and dental implants are both alternatives for replacing missing teeth. Each has advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into consideration when choosing which is the best option for you.
Millions of Americans are missing one or more teeth. In fact, a quarter of Americans over the age to 60 have no natural teeth left at all. Dentures have traditionally been one of the most widely used options for replacing missing teeth, especially if the patient was missing all or most of their upper and lower teeth.
Partial dentures are removeable an use a wire to attach to neighboring teeth for support. Full dentures rely on temporary adhesive to stay in place and are removed nightly for cleaning. Dentures can be uncomfortable to wear and can move around which causes problems with eating and speaking. They tend not to have a very natural appearance.
Dental implants are a more recently developed tooth replacement option in which a titanium device is implanted into the patient’s jawbone. After the jawbone has healed around the implant, a prosthetic tooth similar to a porcelain crown is permanently attached to the implant. Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth or all of the patient’s teeth.
Dental implants are much more firmly attached than dentures. Dental implants look and feel just like natural teeth. In addition, bone stimulation from biting and chewing stops the bone loss in the jaw that is common with dentures.
However, some patients are not good candidates for dental implants. The patient must have sufficient bone structure to support the implant. In addition, dental implants have a higher initial cost than dentures. However, they are a permanent, durable tooth replacement solution and over time may actually cost less than dentures.
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