Despite improvements in dental care, millions of Americans suffer tooth loss from tooth decay, gingivitis (gum disease), or injury. For many years, the only treatment options available for people with missing teeth were bridges and dentures. But today dental implants are available for patients.
Rather than resting on the gum line like dentures or using adjacent teeth as anchors like a dental bridge, dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone where they act as an anchor for replacement teeth. A dental implant looks and feels like a natural tooth, allowing you to chew and speak just like you did before.
Dental implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth or all of them. Dental implants can also be used to anchor a bridge or dentures into place. If you need to have all of your teeth replaced, implant-supported dentures are ideal, providing more stability than traditional dentures and costing less than a complete set of single dental implants.
Just like any surgery, the dental implant procedure will be more successful if you are healthy. That means practicing excellent oral hygiene, eating well and not smoking. Patients must also maintain a significant amount of jaw bone to support dental implants. Discuss your pre-existing medical conditions with your dentist. He or she can best determine if you are a candidate for dental implants.