Dental implants: are they better than real teeth?

Tooth loss is common for many adults. Everything from an acute accident like tripping and hitting your face to diseases like gum disease can cause tooth loss. In fact, many adults will experience tooth loss in one way or another in their lifetimes. Missing teeth affect levels of self-confidence, your ability to speak correctly, the shape of your face, and your overall oral health. Because of the importance of teeth, when a tooth is lost, it is best to seek treatment quickly. One of the most popular ways to treat tooth loss is with the use of dental implants.

Reasons for Receiving Dental Implants

There is a bounty of reasons for receiving dental implants versus other dental appliances like bridges or dentures. Aside from the fact that implants are easier to maintain, they also provide the wearer with more comfort and do not require removal at night. Because of their high success rate (98%), dental implants are quickly becoming the go-to treatment for tooth loss.

Dental Implants vs. Real Teeth

A common question that many dentists receive is whether dental implants are actually better than real teeth. The answer is not so cut-and-dry. It depends. When able, your dentist will try his or her best to keep your natural teeth intact. If a natural tooth can be restored, it is the better choice. Sometimes, this requires multiple procedures which can become aggravating for patients. However, when natural teeth can be fixed, they should be, as a healthy and strong natural tooth is better than a dental implant.

With that being said, sometimes dental implants are the better choice; especially if significant decay is involved. In the case of severe gum disease or decay, dental implants can help a patient live a healthier overall lifestyle. Decaying teeth are known to cause a wide-range of health problems including cardiovascular disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and reduced insulin effectiveness in diabetics.

Dental implants also do not decay (so, a patient does not have to worry about cavities, root canals, etc.). Implants also help with bone density. If a natural tooth is severely decayed, the jawbone cannot properly recover until the tooth has been removed. Finally, implants last a lifetime. While dental implants are not better than healthy natural teeth, they are better than decaying natural teeth.  

Dental Implants: Are You Eligible?

In order to determine whether or not you are eligible for dental implants, your dentist will consider certain factors. While it is a case-by-case basis and there are ways to skirt around the below factors, these factors are what dentists will usually look for when determining your eligibility:

  • A good amount of bone density is required to make sure that a dental implant will fuse with the jawbone; this is why children are usually not good candidates for dental implants as their bones are not dense enough because they are still developing.
  • Receiving a dental implant is a surgical procedure; this means that, overall, you should be healthy. Smokers, heavy drinkers, and diabetics may not be eligible for dental implants.
  • If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, you will not be eligible for dental implants until your gums are strong enough. This is to ensure that your gums can support the implant.
  •  In order to ensure that your dental implant lasts, proper oral hygiene is necessary. If you do not regularly brush and floss, your implant will likely become infected.
  •  Bruxism (teeth clenching) can damage implants. If you are prone to teeth clenching, you may run the risk of damaging your implant. Speak with your dentist about wearing a nightguard if you are prone to clenching your teeth at night.

If you are on the fence about keeping a natural tooth or receiving a dental implant, it is best to speak with your dentist about the pros and cons of each option. Additionally, if you feel that your natural tooth can be salvaged but your dentist seems quick to recommend extraction, it is okay to get a second opinion. No matter the option that you choose, always remember to visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and to practice good, daily oral hygiene.

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