- A missing tooth or teeth
- Potential bite and jaw joint problems from teeth shifting to fill the space
- An aged appearance associated with missing teeth
- A desire to improve chewing ability
- A desire for a more permanent solution than dentures
A dental implant is an artificial root replacement. A titanium implant is surgically placed to replace a missing tooth, and a crown is attached to the top of the implant, creating a natural looking, undetectable replacement for the missing tooth. In the event that more than one tooth is missing, several implants may provide a base for a series of artificial teeth known as a fixed bridge (see fixed bridges.) Implants can even be used to secure a full set of removable dentures for people who have no remaining natural teeth. This can greatly improve chewing ability, reduce the risk of choking, and greatly improve quality of life.
The look, care, and maintenance for a dental implant are almost identical to the look and care of your natural teeth. Not only do dental implants provide a solution for a missing tooth, they also provide support and stability of the remaining jaw bone and teeth. They are strong, stable, durable and virtually undetectable. By filling gaps left by missing teeth, implants can provide better chewing ability, lessen the chance of developing jaw joint problems, and help prevent the loss of more teeth.
Dental implants are excellent, state-of-the-art restorations and have few disadvantages when compared to alternatives such as dentures. However, dental implants do require surgery and time to heal, and they are initially more expensive than dentures or fixed bridges. These disadvantages are offset by the high success rate, the ease of use, and long term health benefits of implants. Dental implants rarely need replacement; however fixed bridges and dentures often need replacement due to regular wear.
A fixed bridge may be used to replace one missing tooth. For multiple missing teeth dentures are a poor alternative to dental implants. However, in some cases, where finances are a primary concern, dentures are the only alternative.