You’ve lost a tooth. Maybe you’ve lost a few teeth, or even an entire arch. Today we are extraordinarily lucky in that there is a wide variety of tooth replacement types available, from bridges to partial dentures to full dentures.
But there is one option that stands far above the rest. That has, arguably, transformed the field of dentistry in its ability to give you, the patient, a tooth or set of teeth virtually indistinguishable from the real deal.
We are talking about dental implants. Dental implants may replace a single tooth or they may be combined with dentures to replace an entire arch. However they are used, they fit, look, and function like real teeth. You eat what you want, you smile without hesitation, you brush and floss like you always have, you don’t worry about them slipping or falling out.
If you’d like to discuss dental implants — or any of our other dental services — with Dr. Walter Hadley of Marineland Dental Care, call our office at 509-591-0515.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is surgically implanted into your jawbone. Over time, it fuses with the bone and becomes a part of your body. Once you are healed from the initial procedure, an abutment and tooth restoration is attached to the implant (or implants, if you are replacing more than one tooth).
It is important to replace missing teeth for a number of reasons.
- You will look better — no unsightly gap in your grin — which will boost your confidence and self-esteem.
- You will look younger. Missing teeth may cause a sunken look in your cheeks and around your mouth, which adds years to your appearance. Replacing teeth will fill out your face properly.
- A missing tooth may actually cause bone loss in the jaw and make your gums shrink.
- When there is a gap in your smile from a missing tooth, surrounding teeth may start shifting out of place.
- It’s difficult to eat properly without all your teeth. You may have to give up favorite foods.
- Missing teeth affect your speech. This is fixable by replacing the missing teeth with dental implants.
Single Dental Implants
If you have just one tooth missing, you are a candidate for a single dental implant. In this procedure, we surgically implant a titanium post into your jawbone. In a process called osseointegration, the bone will grow around the dental implant.
When the dental implant is healed, we will attach the abutment and a dental crown.
Before dental implants, the conventional method for restoring a missing tooth was a dental bridge. A dental implant is more comfortable for many patients, and unlike with a bridge, the adjacent teeth don’t need to be ground down in preparation. A dental implant stands on its own.
Dental Implants with Dentures
If you have many missing teeth — even a whole arch — you may still take advantage of dental implant technology. It would be difficult and costly to replace a large number of teeth with individual dental implants and crowns. But with implant-supported dentures, there is no need.
Dr. Hadley can place just a few dental implants in such a way that they are able to support an entire arch of missing teeth (denture). Dentures held in place by dental implants have several advantages over conventional dentures:
- They require no messy adhesives to stay put.
- They are completely stable in your mouth. There is no danger of them slipping, sliding, or falling out.
- With an upper-arch denture, you will be able to taste your food better, as the denture will not cover a large part of your palate.
- Because the pressure on dental implants goes into your jawbone (just like with real teeth), they help maintain bone thickness and health.
- Your bite will be stronger than with conventional dentures, and you will be able to eat all of your favorite foods!
Mini Dental Implants
If you’ve suffered bone loss in your jaw or Dr. Hadley has reason to believe you will have problems with healing after oral surgery, conventional dental implants may not be a good option for you.
However, you may be a candidate for mini dental implants. Like conventional dental implants, mini dental implants are durable, promote jawbone health, and restore a strong bite.
But because they are smaller, they don’t require as much jawbone thickness for placement and they heal more quickly.
Plus in most cases, Dr. Hadley will be able to place your new teeth on the same day as your dental implant surgery!