When you’re a kid, losing a tooth is a wonderful thing – you get money from the tooth fairy, adults make a fuss over how grown up you are, and you know a bigger, better, stronger tooth is going to grow in to take its place. But when you lose a tooth as an adult, it’s a whole different story. You don’t have a new molar waiting in the wings to make an appearance. But you do have a great option for replacing it: a dental implant.
An implant is basically a replacement root. Made of titanium and surgically implanted into your jawbone (which is actually a lot less painful than it sounds), then capped with an artificial tooth, it’s the most comfortable, most durable replacement option, and it’s the closest you can get to getting back the real tooth you’ve lost.
So why an implant instead of, say, a bridge? When you lose a tooth, the bone around it no longer has anything to support, causing bone and gum shrinkage that can impact facial structure. An implant can help preserve the bone by giving it something to support. A bridge, on the other hand, doesn’t do anything to stop bone loss – in fact, it puts more pressure on the teeth around it, since they are supporting the bridge. But there are lots of other advantages to choosing an implant:
- It looks great. Nothing else looks as much like a natural tooth. Implants are fused to your bone, which makes them stable and long-lasting.
- It’s comfortable. No more shifting dentures or cracked bridges. Implants feel just like regular teeth, which makes it easy to chew, smile and talk.
- It’s better for your other teeth. Unlike a bridge, an implant doesn’t affect your other teeth (bridges require that the teeth around them be reduced). It’s actually good for them – the implant keeps teeth from moving into the space left by the missing tooth, preventing bite problems and discomfort. Plus, you can floss and brush just like you can with real teeth, so care is much easier.
The question I get asked most about dental implants is “Will it hurt?” Most people who’ve had it done say there’s very little discomfort after the procedure – much less than they anticipated. A few patients have compared it to the feeling you get after having a tooth extracted.
Understanding the process
When you decide to go ahead with an implant, here’s what you can expect. To start off, your dentist will determine if you have enough bone mass to support the implant. (If you have significant bone loss, it may be possible for a bone graft to be performed.) An implant specialist then performs surgery in which a titanium root is anchored into your jaw bone. Once the bone has had a chance to heal and adapt to the implant (we usually recommend several months), the artificial tooth or crown is secured to it, and you have a permanent tooth that looks great and lasts a lifetime!
There’s no skirting around the fact that implants are expensive. They aren’t often covered by dental insurance, and can represent a significant investment for many people. However, I find that thinking of them as an investment is precisely what makes them worthwhile; you’re investing in your oral health, in your appearance, and in the ability to smile, eat and talk comfortably for the rest of your life. Ask anyone who’s had an implant – chances are, they’ll tell you it’s the best decision they could have made.
Thinking about implants? We’d be happy to help you make the decision that’s right for you. Please feel free to get in touch with us anytime at 905 637-5463 (KIND) or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.