If you’re missing a tooth or multiple teeth, you’re not alone: 120 million Americans have at least one empty space in their mouth where a tooth used to be. You’re also no doubt painfully aware of how losing a tooth affects not just your ability to chew and enjoy food properly, but your self-esteem as well.
Dental implants have the power to change all that. In many ways, they offer more benefits than dentures, as you never have to remove them for cleaning or deal with getting sore spots in your mouth.
Here are seven amazing benefits of dental implants that anyone considering them for replacing missing teeth should know about.
1. They Look, Feel, and Function Like Natural Teeth
Dental implants look and feel remarkably like natural teeth, so much so that other people won’t be able to tell you have them when you smile. The part of the dental implant that sits above the gum line is the crown portion, which is custom made to look like the missing tooth and shaded so it matches the rest of your teeth.
This crown itself is usually made of porcelain so it feels smooth when you run your tongue over it. But best of all, dental implants function like natural teeth which means you can chew, speak, and smile without worrying about them shifting or causing discomfort.
2. They Prevent Other Teeth From Shifting
Losing a tooth takes needed support away from other teeth that are next to the space or above it, causing them to shift or lean out of place. This can make them tricky to clean properly and lead to other dental problems including cavities and gum disease. It may also make it difficult to chew.
Having a dental implant placed to replace a missing tooth helps support the surrounding teeth by keeping them in the proper position.
3. They Keep Your Facial Muscles Strong—and Your Smile Symmetrical
When a person is missing a tooth, they may begin chewing food on the other side of their mouth to compensate for it. Over time this can weaken muscles on the side of the face with the missing tooth while making the opposite side stronger. The result is an uneven smile, or a lopsided mouth when speaking.
Replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant restores proper chewing function and strengthens the muscles so your smile appears even and symmetrical again.
4. They Can’t Decay
Because dental implants are made of titanium and porcelain, they’re not susceptible to the acids and bacteria that cause cavities. While this means you’ll never have to worry about getting a filling or root canal in one, you still need to brush and floss them like natural teeth.
In addition to keeping them shiny and bright, cleaning them twice a day will keep the gums surrounding them healthy and prevent gingivitis and gum disease.
5. They Can Last a Lifetime
With proper care and regular dental checkups, dental implants carry a high success rate—up to 98%. You’ll still need to brush and floss them regularly like your natural teeth to keep the gum tissue around them healthy. As long as your jawbone remains strong and healthy enough to support them, you shouldn’t have to worry about losing them.
Your dentist will take x-rays and check the condition of your gums at check-ups to make sure your implants are functioning properly.
6. They Restore Confidence
Living with missing teeth often involves more than having chewing or speaking problems; your confidence may also take a nosedive as well. When you’re embarrassed to smile due to missing teeth, it affects all areas of your life from your career to your social interactions.
Dental implants can transform a person’s life and restore their self-esteem. Feeling free to express yourself by smiling proudly can open doors again.
7. The Procedure Itself is Painless
Although it may sound scary to have a dental implant inserted into your jawbone, the truth is the surgery itself is no more uncomfortable for most patients than having a routine filling done. Your dentist or oral surgeon will inject a local anesthetic into the implant area to numb your mouth and offer a sedative if available.
Then they make an incision in the gums and drill an opening into the jawbone where the titanium post part of the implant is to be placed. The gum is stitched, and the post will remain visible above the gum line for the next few weeks or months while the jawbone builds up around the area to support the implant.
When the post is strong, your dentist will take an impression of the area and create a crown that is placed over the post. If the crown doesn’t need an adjustment, your implant is now ready to function just like a real tooth.
You may need to use over-the-counter pain medicine for a day or two following dental implant surgery, or your dentist may prescribe one for you. You may also need to eat soft foods and chew on the other side of your mouth while the area heals.
Most people recover quickly from any post-surgery soreness. If you’re a smoker, you’ll be advised to quit prior to the procedure. This will help your mouth heal faster and avoid any complications.
The Benefits of Dental Implants Are Hard to Beat
It’s easy to see why dental implants are a popular method for replacing missing teeth. Once the restoration process is complete, you’ll never believe you have anything other than natural teeth in your mouth.
To learn more about implants, including how much they cost, check out our latest dental implant posts.