05 Jun How Dental Implants Can Rebuild Your Beautiful And Healthy Smile By Ope Sodeinde, London Dental Specialists
Put simply, a dental implant is the closest thing to a like-for-like replacement of your real teeth dentists can provide.
Dental implants are made up of a titanium screw that goes into the bone. Sounds scary, but they are the strongest and most convenient option available to fix missing, broken, or dead teeth.
At London Dental Specialists, we specialise in offering high-quality dental implants to successfully rebuild your healthy and beautiful smile. But there are other options out there, and in order to feel confident about your choices, you should be aware of what they are and how they compare.
That’s why I’ve put together this handy blog. Keep reading to find out more about how dental implants work, and what alternative treatments are available.
How do dental implants work?
Your specialist dental provider will place a titanium implant into the jawbone beneath the missing tooth. We can imagine that the screw replaces the root of the missing tooth. After a healing period of three months, a custom moulded crown can be screwed on top of the titanium implant, fixing it in place. Cosmetically, dental implants look great – in fact, no one will even be able to tell you’ve got one!
Your dentist should consider how much bone you have at the implant site. Some patients might require a bone graft ahead of fitting a dental implant. A bone graft usually takes bone from the chin, the back of the mouth, or the hip.
This bone doesn’t always have to come from you, either! Interestingly, the bone used in your bone graft might come from a patient who has recently had hip surgery! The head of the femur, which is removed during this type of surgery, is often donated to dentists to be used in bone grafts. Of course, this will always be clearly communicated to the patient!
Whilst a bone graft is beneficial, if one cannot be carried out, or one you’ve previously had is no longer working, a longer dental implant can be screwed into the cheekbones, underneath the nose or behind the upper jaw.
What are the alternatives to dental implants?
It’s important to stress that what’s right for someone else might not be right for you. There are two main options for replacing missing teeth outside of a dental implant:
- Dental bridge
There are several types of dental bridges, the most common being the traditional fixed bridge, made from metal, porcelain, or ceramic teeth joined together. Fitting this type of bridge involves drilling the tooth down to a stump to get an impression of it, and then fitting the bridge on top.
Whilst this is more secure than other forms of dental bridge, the destruction of the natural tooth could lead to the need for root canal treatment. This is where we can enter what is called a restorative cycle: the more the tooth is “restored” and “repaired”, the more damaged it becomes until eventually this process will lead to the failure of our teeth.
Another common bridge is a Maryland bridge, also known as a resin-retained or “sticky” bridge. This is where a replacement tooth is glued into a gap, fixed in place by a wing-like structure which also supports the neighbouring teeth.
Dental bridges can last for many years, especially with good oral hygiene. However, it is important to be aware that it isn’t uncommon for the cement to deteriorate, or for patients to fall short of good oral hygiene, leading to tooth decay and “collapse” of the bridge. In situations where there are multiple missing teeth, bridges are not recommended.
One of the great advantages of dental implants is that the process never goes down this restorative spiral. And the more missing teeth you have, the more important it is to choose a treatment option that is strong and doesn’t cause further damage.
There are several things to consider when it comes to dentures, the first and most important consideration being that they require much more extensive hygiene care to keep them healthy. Quite simply, this is because dentures trap plaque.
A clinical trial conducted in Newcastle which compared patients who had fixed teeth with those who had removable teeth found that patients with removable teeth had higher rates of gum disease. Other studies have supported this, finding that “subjects wearing removable dentures were significantly at risk for periodontal disease progression”.
This is not to say that patients who have dentures are doomed! Of course not. However, if you do choose to have a denture, your oral hygiene must be pristine in order to protect your teeth. It is much harder to keep dentures clean than it would be an implant. This is because dentures might cover other teeth and cause a buildup of plaque.
Dental implants are the recommended option
It is important to stress that dental implants are the most advantageous option for fixing missing teeth because once the implant is locked to the bone it is, unsurprisingly, much stronger than any dental glue and is able to take a lot more force.
In fact, the only patients for whom a dental implant might not be appropriate are those patients who have had radiotherapy in the area of the mouth that requires the implants. For example, some salivary gland tumours require radiotherapy to treat, and will have been targeted extensively. Radiotherapy will kill the blood supply to the bone, and in these situations a dental implant would not be ideal.
Whatever your situation or issue, we want to equip you with the knowledge you need to feel confident and reassured, before you even visit a specialist. If you’d like to chat more about concerns surrounding the best treatment option for you, hop on a free virtual consultation with us! We look forward to hearing from you.