The Risks and Rewards of Dental Implants

May 20, 2016 by Ian (Day Styles)

Millions of people suffer from tooth decay, gingivitis, or injuries that result in lost and broken teeth. In the past, the only solutions for serious losses were bridges and dentures. Today, dental implants offer a solution with significant advantages for your oral health and comfort. However, implants require a brief surgery that comes with certain risks. It’s important to understand the risks and the benefits of dental implants before you head to the dentist.

The Basics

Dental implants are inserted into your jaw and create a replacement root for an artificial tooth. While it might sound arduous, inserting a dental implant with anesthetic is less painful than tooth removal. The implants are typically titanium screws that adhere with the bone through osseointegration, a process that creates a permanent bond between the metal and the bone in three to six months. The implants are anchors for prosthetic crowns, and multiple points can support a bridge of replacement teeth, a fixed denture, or a removable denture.  

The Risks

Dental implants require healthy bones and gums. Smoking, osteoporosis, and radiation therapy can weaken the bone and gums. But if you are in good health dental implants are almost always safe and effective, although there are risks associated with the surgery and lifespan of the device. Like any surgery, there is a rare chance of excessive bleeding or nerve damage. You should consult with your doctor and oral surgeon and make sure you understand the risks. During the first six months after surgery, there is a minor chance of infection and failure to osseointegrate. During the life of the device, the screws may fracture, and the prosthetics may require repair or adjustment. If you don’t clean your teeth, smoke, or suffer from diabetes, you’re at serious risk of peri-implantitis. This bacterial infection can cause inflammation and bone loss. However, it’s important to know that dental implants have a success rate of 92-98% in the first five years while the prosthetic teeth usually last 15 years before requiring adjustment.

The Rewards

While there are risks associated with surgical implantation, dental implants are known for their improved comfort and utility. Unlike bridges, implants don’t require drilling the adjacent teeth and more of your original teeth are left intact. This improves your oral health and the integrity of your remaining teeth. Unlike dentures, dental implants don’t move when you’re chewing or talking. If you still need a removable denture, dental implants provide a customized attachment bar that has almost no slippage. Because the anchor fuses with your bone, dental implants are permanent and require little to no maintenance under ideal conditions. As a result, dental implants look and feel like your teeth. Dental implants are uniquely calibrated to the biomechanical stresses of your mouth. After the implants have healed, you don’t have to worry about chewing! When they are properly cleaned and maintained, dental implants will look and feel like your teeth for the rest of your life.

Unless you have a specific medical concern (such as osteoporosis, smoking, or diabetes), dental implants provide a more comfortable and effective solution than dentures or bridges. There are certain risks associated with oral surgery, and you should still consult with your surgeon or prosthodontist and ensure they are prepared for any eventuality. At the same time, dental implants are perfectly safe and provide significant advantages under most circumstances. Best of all, you don't have to worry about your teeth for a long time. That should put a natural smile bakc on your face!

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