Tooth replacement technology has come a long way in the last 35 years. While in the past people have attempted to replace missing teeth with similarly shaped objects, now we can replace them with dental implants. Dental implants are made of titanium metal which was found to be the most effective material to use. It was discovered that titanium allowed the bone in your jaw to grow closer to the actual implant itself versus other metals. This is what we call osseointegration, which is simply the way that your jaw bone grows and attached to the titanium implant.
Before dental implants were a possibility, dentures and bridges were used to replace missing teeth. Although they did a great job at first, there are several disadvantages for using those methods (both still available today). Dentures have several disadvantages with respect to functionality and appearance. Many patients who choose this route find themselves very frustrated and disappointed. Their diets have to change as chewing hard foods or chewy foods is no longer possible. As for bridges, they may look slightly better than dentures, but they rely on the adjacent teeth for support. This means that you have to compromise two otherwise healthy teeth to provide you a replacement for the missing tooth.
There are many benefits of having a dental implant versus the older methods of teeth replacement. They are successful over the long-term in about 97% of cases. They are free standing and do not compromise the teeth next to it. They are also permanent and do not need replacement like dentures and bridges do. Once the implant is placed, patients can care and treat their implant as a regular tooth with brushing and flossing. Meanwhile, with a bridge there are special and time consuming flossing techniques that need to be done. Lastly, implants are by far the most aesthetically pleasing. Not a single person would know you have a dental implant unless they saw your x-ray or you told them yourself.
Placement of a dental implant is relatively quick and painless. It takes no more time than a crown or filling appointment. After the titanium implant is placed, photos and an impression is taken of your new implant and sent to a dental lab. This is where the replacement tooth/teeth are carefully fabricated. The materials being used for dental implants have changed in recent years, bringing the replacement teeth even closer to the appearance of natural teeth. Laboratories now focus on not just coloration, but also ensure that replacement teeth display the same light translucence as natural teeth so that they do not appear darker when patients smile or laugh.
Next week we will continue with part two of the Dental Implants 101 Series. In the mean time if you have any questions, please contact our Hamilton Dental Office at 905-545-4833.