Dental implants are by far the most effective tooth replacement alternative for dental patients who are missing one or more teeth. Dental implants can even serve as anchors for a denture turning ordinary dentures into a sturdy tooth replacement system.
Dental implants are prosthetic teeth attached to a base surgically implanted in the patient’s jawbone. Dental implants look and feel just like natural teeth and since they are implanted in the jawbone, dental implants stimulate bone growth through natural chewing action. They last at least 15 to 20 years and can last a lifetime if properly cared for.
Most, but not all patients are good candidates for dental implants. First, the patient must have healthy gums. Many patients with missing teeth have lost their teeth due to gum diseases which is usually caused by poor oral health due to poor oral health habits. Before these patients can get dental implants, the gum disease must first be addressed. In addition, the patient will need to commit to developing healthy oral health habits.
Next, the patient must have sufficient bone structure to allow for the implant to properly fuse to the bone. Jaw bone loss begins as soon a tooth is lost and some patients who used a bridge or wear dentures to replace missing teeth may have lost too much bone for placement of the implant. These patients will need bone graft surgery to build up the amount of jaw bone before the dental implant can be place.
Finally, heavy smokers may not be good implant candidates. Smoking makes it harder for the implant to heal after it is placed and reduces the success rate of dental implants. If you need to replace a missing tooth, talk to your dentist about whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.
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