Dental implants are often the best option for replacing missing teeth.

Choosing dental implants

In many cases, dental implants are the best option for replacing missing teeth. Other options such as dentures, removable partial dentures and fixed bridges are often inferior to implants in terms of stability and durability.

Anatomy of a dental implant

An implant to replace a single tooth has three parts:

  • The titanium screw that is placed in the bone under the gum
  • A post that screws into the implant and will emerge from the gum to receive the third part
  • The crown made by your dentist and the laboratory

Twenty-five years ago, patients had no choice other than partial dentures or a bridge to replace their missing teeth. Both options have disadvantages. Partial or full dentures can be unstable and cause ulcers, which is why people tend to use them as little as possible. A conventional bridge uses adjacent teeth as an anchor, which results in a series of treatments simply to anchor the bridge.

In the long term, a bridge may cause deep cavities or gum disease. The useful life of a bridge is approximately 7 to 15 years. When a bridge becomes defective, extractions may become necessary and as a result, the edentulous space becomes larger and can require more extensive treatment.

A dental implant holds teeth in place in an edentulous space or holds a complete prosthetic on a series of implants. The implant is a titanium screw placed in the jaw bone. Titanium has the property of fusing with the bone when it heals. This process is called osteointegration. The implants allow your dentist to make very stable crowns or prosthetics. Implants have been around for more than 25 years. It is common to see patients whose implants are still functional after all this time. Obviously, implants require meticulous hygiene and follow-up by your dental team.

With a bridge, adjacent teeth must be ground and often require root canal treatments. Studies also show that teeth that support a bridge or adjacent to partial dentures often fail and require extraction in 30% of the cases within the first five years.

If you are missing more than one tooth in the same area, two or more implants may be necessary to stabilize the individual crowns or a bridge on an implant which is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

If you have one or more full dentures, dental implants are an option that will provide stability and comfort. The disadvantage of full dentures is that they are mobile and not very efficient for chewing solid food. Dental implants will allow your dentist to make prosthetics that are both functional and aesthetic.

After approximately 50 years of research, the success rate of implants is more than 95%. Your surgeon will tell you if your condition is suitable for dental implants or if another option would be preferable. With time, after extractions, the jaw bone atrophies and resorbs. Your surgeon may discuss the possibility of a bone graft to increase the bone reserve to receive the implant(s) in certain areas. The benefits, risks and alternatives will be explained in detail during your first appointment.