Losing a permanent tooth can cause changes to the way a person talks, eats, or how they smile. Before the popularity and availability of dental implants, patients were only able to choose between fixed bridges or a removable partial denture. The problem with fixed bridges and partial dentures is that they wear away at the remaining teeth and often have to be replaced every seven to 15 years. They also can break down the existing bone area where the missing tooth was located.
What is a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are becoming a popular choice for those patients missing permanent teeth. These implants look and feel like the natural tooth that was lost. It is fitted with a titanium root that is implanted into the bone of the jaw. The process can take several months and multiple trips to a dental office. The reason is that patients have to heal in-between steps of the process.
Criteria for Dental Implantation
For patients who are missing permanent teeth, they may be a logical long-term replacement option. The following criteria is used to determine if a patient is an ideal candidate for implants:
- More than one permanent tooth is missing
- Jawbone is fully grown and developed
- Has an adequate amount of bone remaining to help secure the implants
- The oral tissues of the mouth are healthy
- The patient has no health issues that would affect the bone from healing
- Doesn’t want to or can’t wear dentures
- Looking to have speech improved
- Willing to commit to the process, which takes several months to complete
69% of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth. 26% of adults over the age of 74 have lost all of their permanent teeth. The most common causes for permanent tooth loss include gum disease, tooth decay, a root canal that failed, or an accident to the teeth.
Is Dental Implant the Right Choice?
Dental patients are the ones who have to make the final decision on a dental implant. Implants are a new enough technique, and it requires specialized training on the part of the dentist.
Some patients cannot wear a partial, denture, or fixed bridge, making a dental implant the only logical solution to fix their teeth and to restore their quality of life. If a patient meets all of the criteria listed above, they should talk with their dentist about the possibility of using a dental implant to complete their smile.