Merrillville patients ask, “Why are dental implants becoming so popular?”
For many decades, dentures and dental bridges have been used to replace missing teeth. Those types of restorations are still widely available, but they have fallen out of favor in recent years, with dentists and patients alike preferring implants. Many people who come to Stevenson Fairchild & Surber Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery offices in Merrillville and Valparaiso ask the same question: Why are dental implants becoming so popular? There are actually many reasons. Here we will discuss some of the most important.
How implants are different
A direct comparison with other tooth replacement options is difficult, because implants are in a class of their own. To understand the differences, we need to consider the anatomy of a natural tooth. The part that you see above the gumline is called the crown, and it only comprises about half of the tooth structure. The remainder, hidden below the gumline, is the root. A complete tooth replacement system should address both parts. However, conventional techniques only replace the visible (crown) portion. Implants are unique in the fact that they replace the roots of teeth.
One reason for the prevalent confusion about tooth replacement options is the common use of terms. People say “implants” when they mean full implant treatment, and they say “dentures” when they mean conventional, removable dentures. What exactly do these terms mean?
- An implant is a prosthetic tooth root, usually made of titanium or a titanium alloy. It is surgically implanted in the bone and not visible when treatment is complete. Implants can support many different types of restorations.
- A dental crown is a restoration shaped like the upper “white” part of a tooth. The most familiar type of crown is a hollow “cap” that fits over a damaged tooth to restore and protect it. For tooth replacement with an implant, a solid prosthetic crown is used.
- A denture is a dental appliance consisting of several crowns attached to a frame. Partials replace some teeth, whereas full dentures replace an entire arch. Conventional dentures are removable and secured with suction and adhesives (for full plates) or attachments (partials).
- A dental bridge is a fixed (non-removable) restoration that replaces one or several teeth. Conventional bridges, also called crown-and-bridge work, use adjacent natural teeth for support.
- Dental implant treatment is a complete solution that replaces the entire tooth. It utilizes one or more implants to replace the roots, topped by a specially designed crown, bridge, or denture.
The benefits of dental implant treatment
Replacing the entire tooth, including the root, is much better than just replacing part of it, for many reasons.
- Promote bone health – Roots do more than just hold teeth in place. They also help the bone stay strong and healthy, by providing stimulation necessary for cellular regeneration. After a tooth is lost, the bone in that area begins resorbing (decreasing). Other replacement techniques do not protect the bone because they do not replace the root. Only dental implants replace the roots.
- Optimize chewing efficiency – People who wear conventional dentures often must avoid foods such as corn on the cob, because their teeth simply aren’t stable enough. However, those with dental implants can eat whatever they want, and chew with ease. Like natural teeth, implants are rooted in the bone to provide rock-solid stability.
- Convenient care – The number one complaint among patients with conventional fixed bridges is the difficulty of cleaning. In this type of restoration, the false tooth is attached to crowns on either side, and the bottom of it is level with the gumline. You need to use a special tool, or thread dental floss under the crown in order to clean this area. However, implant supported restorations mimic the anatomy of natural teeth, extending through the gums to the bone. They can be brushed and flossed just like natural teeth, using the techniques you are accustomed to.
- Long lasting results – You might expect to replace a conventional denture or bridge after several years. However, dental implants have the potential to last for the rest of your life if you maintain good oral health.
Your new smile is just a phone call away
You don’t have to live with a gap in your smile, or an inconvenient, uncomfortable dental restoration. Give us a call and schedule a consultation to find out if you are a candidate for dental implants. You can reach our Merrillville office at (219) 600-5797 or our Valparaiso office at (219) 307-4382 .Back to Dental Implants Page