Dental implants are one of many options when it comes to replacing missing teeth. Like most procedures, tooth implants have pros and cons and it is important to understand how this applies to your situation. It is also crucial to note that dental implants are often the last resort where previous work has not been successful, or the specific situation demands it. Dental implant surgery should not be done to replace good teeth, or with the perceived goal of reducing future maintenance.
So let’s look at tooth implant pros and cons and explore how this may relate to your specific situation.
Dental Implant Pros
- Dental implants provide a great alternative to removable dentures when you are replacing missing teeth, or those that cannot be saved, or have a poor prognosis with other treatment options such as root canals or crowns
- The dental implant is fixed into the bone so they do not move. For many people, the idea of having to take their false teeth out to clean them, or the worry of having them loose, or moving is not acceptable.
- Unlike bridges, dental implants can be used to replace missing teeth without having to cut back the adjacent teeth for support. Whilst a traditional bridge is often a great option, keeping an implant tooth separate means it is often easier to clean and maintain, and there is less to be concerned about if there is an issue with the supporting tooth.
- Dental implants preserve the jaw bone where a tooth has been removed. If a tooth is extracted, the bone that was present to support it begins to shrink away over time. Whilst this is not always a priority at the time a tooth is removed, understanding that placing an implant sooner will maintain the bone level and also reduce the likelihood of the adjacent teeth moving and drifting into the space. Dental implants can be placed long after the tooth has been removed, however this can be more difficult.
- Dental implants can be used to replace multiple teeth and to stabilise dentures. You may not need an individual dental implant to replace each missing tooth. For example,t you can use 4 implants to provide anchorage to a full set of teeth held in permanently or even as few as 2 implants to help stabilise a lower denture. One of the most common complaints about traditional dentures is that they move around too much and cause rubbing and irritation.
- Tooth implants are generally long lasting and durable. In many cases they can function for well over a decade with regular maintenance.
Dental Implant Cons
Dental implant surgery is a moderately invasive process, so it is essential to consider that there can be some challenges along the way.
- Dental implant surgery typically results in post-operative pain and swelling that can last for several days. The implant is made of surgical grade titanium and is placed either at the same time the problematic tooth is removed (this is not always the case) In most scenarios this is performed using local anesthetic. Whilst not painful, due to the highly effective local anesthetic, the process would not be described as pleasant.
- Dental implant surgery can be done under General anesthetic if indicated, but this does add cost and some complexity to the process.
- The process from implant to final tooth is not usually quick. In the case of a single tooth, the implant is made up of a few different components placed at different times. The implant screw is typically placed and left to heal for 3 – 6 months before the components that make up the visible and functional tooth are placed on top of them. If you place load on an implant too soon you can increase the risk of failure. For this reason, most implant screws have the gum closed over the top of them, or a small cover plate for protection while your bone heals around them.
- The dental implant may not last forever and requires regular thorough cleaning at home and ongoing care with your oral health professional. Despite being made of very robust materials, the implant may still not be a lifelong solution. There are scenarios where an implant loses its supporting bone and can become mobile. These issues are uncommon, but the basics of cleaning and good general health are the best defense against premature failure.
- Tooth implants are generally more expensive than other tooth replacement options. The typical cost for a single tooth replacement is from $5000-6000
Dental implant surgery does provide a great way of having fixed and long-lasting ways to replace missing teeth. It is one of many options that need to be explored and discussed with your dentist.