If you have missing teeth, you should consider a dental implant. Dental implants may seem like a scary concept, but they are actually the best way to replace missing teeth. Check out these six facts about dental implants, so you can become a little more familiar with the process.
Dental Implants Aren't a New Concept
It may seem like dental implants are a new and revolutionary cosmetic dental procedure, but that's only half right. While they are revolutionary, dental implants aren't new. In fact, the idea of dental implants dates all the way back to the Mayans and Egyptians. Many Mayan skulls have been discovered with stones and seashells hammered into the jaw to replace missing teeth. Wealthy ancient Egyptians replaced their missing teeth with gold, ivory and precious stones, and poor ancient Egyptians used seashells and bones.
Even Modern Dental Implants Have Been Around for a While
Obviously, modern dental implants have come a long way from seashells and stones, but even modern dental implants aren't that new. They actually date back to 1952. That's when a Swedish professor discovered the strange connection between bone and titanium, which allows implants to work. However, it wasn't until the 1970s that dental implants really started to be used. Back then, most dental implants were used on people who were missing all of their teeth, but couldn't tolerate or stabilize dentures.
Titanium Can Fuse to Bone
What exactly was the strange connection the Swedish professor discovered? It was a process known as osseointegration. In other words, he discovered that titanium fuses to bone. When a titanium root is placed in your jaw, the jawbone fuses to it, just like it fuses to your natural teeth. This creates a durable and stable hold that prevents the implant from falling out from extreme pressures.
They Don't Just Improve the Look and Functionality of Your Teeth
The most obvious benefits to dental implants are that they give you a beautiful set of teeth and return functionality. However, the benefits go far beyond you smile, affecting the entire look of your face. When you have missing teeth, your jawbone atrophies because it has nothing to stimulate it. Overtime, this can affect the shape of the lower portion of your mouth, causing your chin to rotate outwards and upwards and your face to look long and hollow. Because dental implants fuse to the bone, they stop this process by stimulating the jawbone.
A Bone Graft Is a Common Step in the Procedure
You now know that your jawbone atrophies when you have no teeth to stimulate it, but an implant needs a solid jawbone to support it. For this reason, a bone graft is a common part of getting a dental implant. If your jawbone is severely weak and small, the dentist may take a piece of bone from another part of your mouth or body, such as your hip. The bones fuse together to make the jawbone denser. Even if you just had the tooth pulled, however, it's common for the dentist to do a minor bone graft to make sure the jawbone doesn't shrink before the procedure can begin.
The Implant Can't Decay
The good news about a dental implant is that it can't decay. Unlike natural teeth, it isn't susceptible to the breakdown caused by plaque and bacteria. However, that doesn't mean you can skip brushing. While the implant is immune to disease, your gums aren't. If you fail brush, floss and get routine cleanings, the gums can become inflamed from bacteria and debris, leading to peri-implant disease, or gum disease around the implant. If this becomes severe enough, it can expose the titanium root or cause the implant to fail.
If you have missing teeth, dental implants are the most durable option, but they are expensive. If you think a dental implant is the right choice for you, click here to contact a dentist in your area. Schedule a consultation and find out how a dental implant can improve your smile.