How Dental Implants Can Improve Your Smile and Your Oral Health

About 3 million people in the United States have dental implants, and that number is expected to grow by about a half-million each year, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. One of the biggest reasons why implants have become so popular is because they are designed to look, function, and feel more like your natural teeth. That means they’re a lot more comfortable than dentures or bridges, the two traditional options for replacing missing teeth.

But while increased comfort is certainly important, it’s just one reason why implants continue to grow in popularity. Many are also choosing dental implants for functional and cosmetic reasons.

How dental implants work

Dental implants are comprised of three main parts: the metal post that’s implanted into your jawbone; an artificial tooth or crown; and a third piece called an abutment that firmly attaches the crown to the post. The post is made of titanium, a biocompatible metal that’s used in other types of implants and joint replacements as well.

The primary reason why implants feel more comfortable is their design. With the post implanted into your jawbone, it acts like your natural tooth root to secure the crown in place. That means when you bite or chew, the crown stays firmly in place — you don’t have to worry about the embarrassment that comes from a denture slipping, nor will you have the sore spots that can occur when a denture doesn’t fit properly. You also don’t have to worry about food particles slipping under a denture or bridge.

But that’s just part of the story. Because that post is inside your jawbone, it works like a natural root to stimulate the natural bone cell replacement cycle. Like the bones in other parts of your body, your jawbone tissue is continually being replaced. Older, worn tissue is replaced by newer cells to keep the bone healthy and strong. But, unlike other parts of your body, your jaw depends on your tooth roots to stimulate that process. Once your body senses a tooth root is gone, the bone replenishment cycle stops, and your jawbone can become thin and weak. The roots of the teeth on either side start to loosen, significantly increasing the risk they’ll fall out. This “tooth-loss cascade” is often referred to as a “domino effect,” which simply means that when one tooth falls out, it can wind up causing more teeth to fall out, one after another.

Because dentures and bridges rest on top of your gums, they can’t do anything to stimulate the bone replacement cycle. But dental implant posts act like a tooth root. Your body “senses” the root is in place, so it continues to replace old, worn jawbone to keep the area strong and healthy. As a result, dental implants may actually improve your overall oral health by helping to prevent future tooth loss. Plus, by replacing a missing tooth, dental implants can maintain your normal bite balance, helping you avoid problems like grinding, clenching and excess tooth wear that can lead to cavities or weak roots. Maintaining a normal bite balance may also help prevent temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and the painful symptoms it causes.

Cosmetic benefits, too

You may not even realize the oral health benefits of dental implants, but you’ll definitely experience the cosmetic advantages. Once again, the dental implant’s design makes a big difference. Because implants are designed like your natural teeth, they’re a lot more secure. They don’t rest on top of the gum, and they don’t depend on neighboring teeth to “stay put.” They’re secured to your jawbone, so you don’t have to worry about slippage. Plus, they’re easy to care for; in fact, it only takes brushing, flossing and routine dental cleanings — the same care you use for your natural teeth — to keep them (and the surrounding gum) in good shape. And of course, the crown is shaped and tinted to blend beautifully with your other teeth. With proper care, your implant can last as long as your natural teeth (or even longer).

At The Dental Touch, we use the most advanced implant techniques and technology to help every patient enjoy beautiful results. To learn more about dental implants and how they can restore and improve the look and function of your teeth, book an appointment online today.

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