Having a gap in your smile can lead to issues ranging from trouble chewing food to a drop in self-confidence, but one way patients and practitioners try to address these types of problems is the use of dental implants. Unlike other options, such as partials and dentures, the implant is fully installed into the mouth, rather than just functioning as a prosthetic. It never has to come out, and it tends to be much sturdier under the forces of eating than any other available solution.
How It Works
A dental implant is comprised of a false tooth that's mounted onto a metal post. The metal post is screwed into the underlying bone structure that was left behind when a tooth was lost. The implant cap is made of materials similar to the ones used to create crowns or veneers.
Putting in dental implants is a form of oral surgery, and the related expenses tend to reflect that fact. Replacement of a single tooth is likely to start at $1,000 and can go above $10,000, depending on the complexity of the procedure and the quality of the appliances used to replace the tooth.
You may be able to save some money if you're missing multiple teeth in a row, as a bridge can often be installed covering a real tooth and a post or two posts. Individuals who've lost whole sets of top or bottom teeth may be able to have a type of denture mounted to a set of four implant posts.
Bone Density Matters
Between each natural tooth and the jaw is a support structure of bones and ligaments that allow the tooth to adjust and articulate as the mouth moves. Once an adult tooth is gone, the area underneath it will atrophy, with the density of the underlying bones eventually disappearing. It's wise to pursue dental implants within a few years of losing a tooth.
Foremost, all healing from the initial loss of a tooth should be under control before moving ahead with getting dental implants. Once this is the case, the procedure is often possible to pull off in a single visit.
The success rates for dental implants largely depend on placement. A rule of thumb is that one in the upper mouth has a 90% chance of being in place after five years. Lower ones have five-year success rates around 95%.