Tooth loss among humans is not unusual and can result from a number of underlying issues, most notably decay and gum disease. Since they are vital to our digestive system and thus to our overall health, teeth that are lost need to be replaced. Dental implants represent the modern answer to this problem. However, these devices and their application are often misunderstood.
Understanding Dental Implants
Contrary to popular belief, implants are not replacement teeth. Implants instead serve as the foundation for other prosthetic devices, whether they be individual crowns or entire sets of dentures.
The implant itself is a small fixture made of highly-durable titanium. It is surgically inserted into the area where the tooth has been lost or removed. In a process known as osseointegration, the bone actually grows around the implant, which in a sense becomes part of the person’s body.
The next step involves the attachment to the implant of an abutment, actually a small post, which will hold in place the new tooth or teeth. The tooth itself will be molded in the same way as a conventional prosthesis, with the dentist taking an impression of the affected area. In order to assure a natural appearance, the replacement tooth can even be matched to the color of the person’s own teeth.
The Advantages of Dental Implants
The manner by which implants are fused to the bone helps make the teeth they support look and feel natural. It also makes them function in the same manner as natural teeth.
The fear of many of those with false teeth is that their dentures will slip when they are talking, causing them to slur their words, or even fall out when they are eating, with equally embarrassing results. Those with implants have no such worries, thus giving them a sense of self-confidence when they are with others.
Strictly from a health standpoint, implants have an advantage over conventional prosthetic devices because they do not require physical changes in the surrounding natural teeth. Implants can last for years, perhaps even a lifetime provided they receive proper care, which means daily brushing and flossing and regular dental examinations. The costs of implants are significantly higher than those of other forms of teeth replacement. A single implant costs around C$2,400 in Canada, and this expense is not covered by Medicare and usually not by private insurance. Anyone considering dental implants should weigh their costs with their many advantanges, and in the end may consider them a wise investment.