Dental implants offer people with missing teeth a long-lasting, natural-looking solution to restore their oral health and their smile. New implant technology is being advanced all the time, and a dental implant now can look, feel and function just like your natural teeth. Implants offer a reliable, highly successful treatment for lost or missing teeth due to decay, gum disease, trauma or accident, or failed root canals.
There are a wide range of dental implants, and which kind is best for you will depend on many factors, like overall dental health, existing medical conditions, the location and type of teeth being replaced, and other considerations your dentist will take into account. Good bone strength and sufficient bone in the needed area help make an implant more successful, although there have been advances in implants that can be used in compromised bone structures.
If you are wondering whether dental implants may work for you, meet with Dr. McCormick to discuss your oral health and what your specific situation may be. Every implant patient needs an individualized treatment plan to reach their best outcome.
Types of Dental Implants
Implants can be part of two different kinds of dental restorations: permanent fixed replacement teeth, or removable replacement teeth. The dental implant itself is a biocompatible metal post that anchors into the jawbone to provide a solid foundation for either kind of replacement restoration. This security and solidity is what makes implant-based tooth restorations so successful. For a single tooth replacement, a patient will forget that it is not a natural tooth. And for denture wearers, they will have the freedom to eat so much more effectively than they ever thought possible.
The most common implant is called an endosteal implant, typically made of titanium and resembling a small post with threads that is placed directly into the jawbone. These can support many types of dental restoration, and are often used when just a single tooth in one location is missing, or may be used in several different places in your mouth if more teeth are needing replacement. These implants are permanent and may not need to be replaced in most patients’ lifetimes.
These also come in a smaller size, called miniature or narrow-diameter implants, and are sometimes used to stabilize dental restorations like partials and dentures. Their smaller size means they heal more quickly and are less invasive during the treatment process. They have a lifetime similar to their larger cousins, and with proper care can last many years.
A subperiosteal dental implant is another option, suitable for patients, as mentioned above, who may not have enough bone tissue where the tooth is missing to support a regular implant. Instead, these are secured in the soft gum tissue above the jawbone. This makes them less functional and less able to bear pressure as a normal tooth would, but these implants can still serve to replace teeth in certain restorative situations. They may be more likely to need eventual replacement than endosteal implants.
Types of Tooth Replacements
The tooth replacement portion of a dental restoration is the part that is more likely to wear down, become damaged, or otherwise need replacement at some point in a patient’s lifetime.
Replacement teeth are always custom-manufactured to fit perfectly in the gap left by a missing tooth, and are made with materials that are sturdy, easy to clean, and resistant to damage and staining. Still, future trauma and damage is possible, and some patients need new replacement teeth in the range of 10 to 15 years due to wear and gradual damage. The implant that supports your replacement teeth, however, may not ever need replacing and can give a stable base for future restorations of whatever kind is necessary.
Single tooth replacements are used when missing one tooth, very similar to a crown, while fixed bridges and removable dentures are used for more missing teeth. Lifetimes for all the restorations vary due to many conditions with which they may come in contact over time. When these are considered, planning for longevity is always a priority.
To learn more about what type of dental implant or restoration might be right for you, get in touch with Dr. McCormick at our Santa Rosa office, and make an appointment to discuss the best treatment plan.