If you have missing teeth, chances are you’ve heard about dental implants. Currently, about three million Americans have used them to replace their missing teeth, with that number expected to grow by another half million every year. You may have heard that they offer more benefits than any other form of tooth replacement, which is true. But how safe are they? Let’s take a closer look at what dental implants are, what risks they can pose, and whether they’re ultimately worth it.
But First, What Exactly Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a titanium post that is meant to mimic the root of your lost tooth by being placed directly into your jawbone. Depending on how many teeth you’re missing, a crown, bridge, or denture is situated atop the implant to help it look, feel, and function like a natural part of your smile. Because titanium is biocompatible, the post firmly bonds to your jawbone, creating a foundation as stable as your natural tooth. It also internally stimulates the jawbone, preventing the bone loss that usually occurs after teeth are lost.
Potential Dental Implant Complications
While dental implants have a success rate of over 95%, there are still some complications that can arise. Some of them include:
- Integration failure. It takes three to six months for the implant to fuse with the jawbone. Certain factors, like tobacco use, uncontrolled diabetes, and oral infection, can prevent the implant from successfully integrating.
- Infection. The most common reason behind implant failure is peri-implantitis, a form of gum disease commonly associated with implants. Inadequate oral hygiene can cause this infection to develop, compromising the gum tissue supporting the implant.
- Breakage. Fracturing the implant or abutment (the piece connecting the implant to the restoration) can occur from biting or chewing too forcefully with the implant. This is more likely to cause damage within the first year or so after implant placement.
Are Dental Implants Worth the Risk?
It’s worth mentioning that although the above risks can happen, they are quite rare. More often than not, dental implants can be placed safely and go on to last a lifetime.
As the best solution to tooth loss by far, dental implants are definitely worth the risk. They’re the only option that replaces a tooth from the root up, resulting in benefits such as increased stability, greater chewing power, incredible longevity, and easy maintenance.
If you’re still on the fence about getting dental implants, it couldn’t hurt to schedule a consultation with your dentist. They can tell you whether you’d make a good candidate, how long the process will take, and how implants can benefit your smile for decades to come.
About the Author
Dr. Patrick Pirkle studied dentistry at the Nova Southeastern University Dental School. As a member of the American Society of Implant & Reconstructive Dentistry, he is well-qualified to both place and restore dental implants in his own practice in Sebastian, FL. To learn more about the numerous benefits of dental implants, visit his website.