According to the American College of Prosthodontics (ACP), more than 36 million Americans do not have any teeth, and 120 million people are missing at least one tooth. Although the primary cause of tooth loss is from dental decay and periodontal disease, missing teeth can also be a result of trauma, illness, or abnormal development. The biggest impact for most people missing a tooth is the psychological and social aspect. One of the first things people notice during conversation is a person’s smile. Missing a tooth not only affects appearance, but it may also impair speech, as teeth play an important role in formation of sounds that produce words when we talk. The ACP has also shown that missing teeth can also contribute to nutritional changes, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.
Our goal is to prevent tooth loss altogether, but sometimes it's inevitable. In this article, I will be explaining dental implants, and why they have become the standard of care for replacing missing teeth when compared to other treatment modalities, such as dentures and bridges.
A dental implant is a titanium device that looks similar to a screw, which is surgically placed into the jaw bone in the area of the missing tooth. Once the the bone heals around the implant through a process called osseointegration, about 3 to 6 months after implant placement, the permanent crown may then be screwed or cemented to the implant.
Advantages of implants: