Are Dental Implants Safe?
While it is preferable to retain your own teeth whenever possible, sometimes tooth loss is inevitable due to advanced decay, gum disease, or trauma to the face. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, by age 74 one in four adults lose all their permanent teeth due to one cause or another. For adults who lose all or some of their permanent teeth, dental implants are a more recent replacement option in addition to fixed bridgework or dentures. While dental implants have many advantages over other, older replacement methods, there are downsides as well. At Summit OMS, we believe it is important to understand dental implants pros and cons in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to have the procedure done.
Dental Implants Procedure
To understand the pros and cons of dental implants, it is important to know what happens during the procedure itself. The first thing to keep in mind is that implantation actually requires more than one procedure. The first step is to implant the metal fixture that will hold the new tooth prosthesis directly into the jawbone. The implant then needs time to fuse completely with the bone, meaning that it can be anywhere from three to six months before a second procedure can take place to attach an artificial replacement tooth to the post that sticks up above the gums and attaches to the fixed implant.
Dental Implant Advantages
Unlike dentures and bridges that need to be replaced approximately every 10 years, dental implants are likely to last you a lifetime. While dentures may cause difficulties with chewing or speaking, or make unpleasant clicking sounds while you move your mouth, dental implants function just like natural teeth. Visually, it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference between real teeth and implants.
Dental implants are versatile in that it is possible to replace one tooth or several teeth. If you end up losing all your teeth, replacing them all with implants is a possibility. If you only have a few implants, they should blend in completely with your remaining teeth and look completely natural.
Dental Implant Disadvantages
However, there are other advantages to implants in addition to their look and function. Bridges rely on neighboring teeth for support, which can result in damage. Dental implants exist independently from other teeth and therefore don’t have any adverse effect on them. Tooth loss or removal can lead to the disintegration of the jawbone, which can negatively affect remaining teeth, as well as jaw muscles, joints, and other facial structures. Because a dental implant replaces the root of the tooth as well as the upper portion, it functions the same way in the jaw and can prevent bone loss.
Because of all the positive things that dental implants can do for you, they don’t come cheap. A single tooth replacement can cost several thousand dollars, and multiple implants can run into the tens of thousands. Unfortunately, implants usually aren’t covered by insurance, so you can expect to pay out of your own pocket.
Dental implants sometimes require additional procedures to prepare the area to receive the implant. The recovery time required for these procedures can increase the timeframe to complete the process by at least several months. Keep in mind that even if no extra procedure is required, it can take up to six months for the implant to become sufficiently fused with the bone to support a tooth replacement.
You may wonder, “Are dental implants safe?” Generally, the answer is yes, but as with all surgeries, there are risks of infection, bleeding, and injuries to nerves, nasal cavities, or sinuses. In addition, there is a possibility of implant failure, although following your surgeon’s instructions improves your chance for success.
If you have one or more missing teeth, contact Summit OMS today. Our specialists can inform you whether dental implants are appropriate for your situation.