As technology has transformed modern dental care, so have dental implants when it comes to restoring a smile with missing teeth. What used to be a very complex and expensive procedure is now regarded to be the gold standard of tooth replacement. The surgery itself is more gentle and straightforward than ever. That’s why more and more people are now choosing implants over conventional solutions like fixed bridges or removable dentures.
Implants Integrate into Your Bone Like a Real Tooth
Installing an implant involves creating an artificial socket within your jaw (often near where your natural tooth once stood) and then placing the implant “root” into that space. Your body naturally finds the need to bond to it, so new bone is created within the socket, fusing the implant permanently with the jaw. This process is called “osseointegration” and it serves to offer the stability that the artificial tooth root needs to support a fixed restoration.
- Implants can “fuse” with your bone in a matter of months, making them strong enough to support your fixed crown or bridge.
- Because implants are made of titanium like surgical joint replacements, they’re extremely biocompatible.
- Some types of implants can be restored on the same day as placement surgery, such as when the patient is receiving an immediate placement implant denture.
Long-Lasting Results That Withstand the Test of Time
Well cared for dental implants can and should last for the entire lifetime of the patient. They have the highest success rate of any other type of treatment in modern dentistry. While the restoration on top of an implant can wear out over time, (just like a pair of tires) the implant underneath does not.
All of that being said, it’s vital to care for your implants as if they were a real tooth. This means flossing them regularly, brushing gently along the gumlines, and having your hygienist or dentist clean them on a routine basis. Why? Because the gingiva (gums) around your tooth can become inflamed — like gingivitis around teeth — developing into a condition called peri-implantitis. Left unmanaged, it can cause the gingiva to detach from the implant and lead to bone loss. Eventually, the implant could even fall out the same way a tooth would if you had advanced periodontal disease.
Elimination of the Need for a Removable Prosthesis
For generations (remember George Washington?) dentures and partials have been the go-to solution for replacing missing teeth. This meant wearing a removable “plate” that relied on suction to stay in place all day long. Unfortunately, many people struggle with finding a great denture fit. Because of that, it can affect their diet, social life, and even how they speak.
Implants virtually eliminate the need to wear a denture in most situations. Even if you do choose to wear a denture, your Houston implant dentist can make it so the prosthesis snaps on and off dental implants for optimal stability. Implant supported dentures are usually streamlined, freeing up extra space in the mouth so that you can enjoy the taste of your favorite foods and live without the fear of slurred speech.
Minimally Invasive to Other Teeth
Apart from dentures, the other go-to for tooth replacement has often been the dental bridge. Bridges require reshaping of healthy tooth structure so that the restoration can be cemented over it. After several years when the bridge needed to be changed out, those teeth had to be adjusted even more. It essentially means putting crowns or even sometimes performing root canals on otherwise healthy teeth that should have never needed treatment.
With an implant, you can avoid trauma to healthy virgin teeth. Implants, by nature, are stand-alone artificial tooth roots. This prevents them from relying on adjacent teeth for their support. It also provides you with more options when it comes to where in the mouth teeth need to be replaced.
On top of the implant would be a single porcelain crown, functioning as if the entire unit were a brand new tooth. It’s as if nothing happened at all to the rest of your mouth!
- No healthy teeth are drilled down or reshaped, which is extremely important for the longevity of your smile.
- Implants stand independently, yet help retain normal bite formation by supporting adjacent teeth.
- The surgical placement is relatively comfortable and minimally-invasive. It can usually be performed under local anesthetic.
Maintaining an Appropriate Biting Relationship (Occlusion)
One of the biggest problems that happens after a tooth is lost or extracted, is a change in the natural biting patterns of the other teeth. Even if a tooth in the back part of your mouth is removed, it can cause a chain reaction of teeth shifting through the entire lower arch. Not only that, but the upper tooth that used to bite against your lower tooth may gradually start to lift out of the socket.
Using implants to restore a missing tooth helps to maintain appropriate and healthy occlusions. This is especially important for people who have spent years straightening their teeth with braces and don’t want to lose the investment that they’ve made.
Stronger than Natural Teeth
Because of the osseointegration process, implants essentially become a part of the body. Not only that, but they’re obviously made of titanium…a material that’s harder than the hardest substance in the human body…tooth enamel.
Due to this structural feature, implants can support more weight than that of a natural tooth. This allows our Houston implant dentists to use implants to support several different types of restorations, such as:
- Multiple-tooth dental bridges, anchored on top of as few as two implants for three or four missing teeth.
- Extended bridges (such as a “hybrid” denture) that can span across the length of the entire arch.
- All-on-4 dentures, that are supported by just four (or six) implants.
…All without jeopardizing the integrity and strength of your bite.
Replace as Few or as Many Teeth as Necessary
Thanks to the flexibility that single or multiple-tooth implant restorations have to offer, they’re a wonderful way for us to rehabilitate the bite of people who have severe dental diseases, tooth loss, or used to wear dentures.
When necessary, we can remove (extract) any diseased teeth that are non-restorable, and provide therapeutic services to restore the health of teeth that are being retained. Such as periodontal therapy, composite (white) restorations, and porcelain crowns.
For the teeth that have been extracted, dental implants offer the most promising results and flexibility. The number of implants needed will be appropriate for the spaces left without teeth; but even then, the implants can work together to support a longer restoration when the space is wider due to multiple teeth being gone. No removable partial dentures are needed.
Simpler Than a Tooth Extraction
“Doesn’t it hurt to get a dental implant? After all, it’s called a surgery!”
Many people take one look at a dental implant diagram and decide that it must involve some type of a painful or invasive surgical procedure. While this was true decades ago, it’s not anymore.
Most implant procedures are…
- Easier than having a tooth pulled.
- Performed with just a little bit of local anesthetic to numb the gums around the site (there are no pain receptors in the bone!)
- Simple to recover from. An over-the-counter pain reliever is usually only needed for a couple of days.
- Very predictable, especially when you follow your home care instructions properly before and after the procedure.
An Option for More People Than Ever Before
It wasn’t more than a decade ago that people were turned down left and right when they asked to get dental implants. That’s just not the case anymore. Now, most implant dentists utilize computer guided implant placement (especially for All-on-4 procedures) to make the surgery predictable, faster, and less invasive. Even insurance companies are covering them these days because of how effective of a treatment they are.
Additionally, procedures such as bone grafting and sinus lifts can enhance your jawbone in a way that it facilitates implants when a conventional technique would not. The key is to find the best implant dentist or specialist in Houston to perform this service, rather than take no for an answer.
In fact, there are even alternate designs of implants that can be placed in patients who have less than adequate bone, when appropriate. Just because you were turned down for implants or told that you weren’t a candidate doesn’t mean that is the case today. It does mean that you need to get a second opinion!
Houston Dental Implants at Greenspoint Dental
Are you considering rehabilitating your entire smile with implants, or undergoing an All-on-4 treatment? At Greenspoint Dental in Houston, we can help. Our attentive, experienced implant dentists will discuss your concerns, future goals, and what options are available when it comes to implants or rehabilitation treatments. IV sedation is also available to help you “nap” through the entire procedure if you prefer! Be sure to ask about our All-on-4 special pricing and 0% financing options. Call now.