When people think of implants, they usually think about elective cosmetic surgery. Implants are seen as something that can improve one’s appearance, but aren’t exactly necessary. This is true be they breast implants or dental.
However, there is evidence that dental implants are more than just a cosmetic procedure, and that they can have real value for the overall health of your mouth.
What are Dental Implants?
In a nutshell, dental implants are false teeth that have been attached to, or implanted in, the bone of your jaw. It is a surgical procedure where the dentist attaches several metal posts to the jaw bone, and then attaches one or more teeth to those posts using a series of screws.
Unlike dentures, implants remain permanently in the mouth, attached to the gums, and closely mimic natural teeth. Dental implants can be used to replace one or two teeth, or to replace an entire row of teeth.
How They Contribute to Mouth Health
One of the major issues with dentures is that they can contribute to bone loss in the jaw.
Your body is constantly breaking down your bones for calcium and other minerals. However, your body is also constantly building up the bone through a process called remodeling. In your body, remodeling is usually triggered by the movement of skeletal muscles and ligaments. In your mouth, it is usually triggered by your teeth.
Your natural teeth sit in sockets in the bone and are anchored by muscles and ligaments. When you chew, your natural teeth pull on the bone of the jaw, which stimulates bone growth. If you lose those teeth, you no longer have anything sitting in those bone sockets and dentures sit on top of the gums. As a result, when your body natural breaks down the bone in your jaw, there is nothing to stimulate remodeling.
Because implants are mounted on posts, which are attached to the bone, they mimic the action of natural teeth and stimulate remodeling. As a result, you are less likely to experience bone loss with an implant.
The Popularity of Dentures
Although implants are actually better for your teeth and gums, dentures are still the more common and popular choice. This is due in large part to the cost of each procedure. Implants can be expensive – up to several thousand dollars – as compared to the standard dentures.
However, the overall health benefits could make implants worth the cost. Although a set of dentures is usually cheaper, they can end up being more expensive over time. As you lose bone density, it actually changes the shape of your jaw, which can affect the way your dentures fit. Ill-fitting dentures can cause pain, and trouble chewing. They can also cause abrasions and other damage to your gums. Over time, you will need to replace the ill-fitting dentures, or risk more damage to your mouth. The more bone you lose, the more often you will need to replace those dentures, which could end up costing more than getting implants in the first place.
Additionally, there are also cosmetic effects because the bone loss can actually change the shape of your lower jaw. This is why the lower jaws of people with dentures tend to have a sunken or misshapen appearance.
Finally, unlike dentures, implants can be permanent, which means you don’t need to spend a lot of money on all of the cleaning and soaking supplies that you need for dentures. You also don’t have to worry about removing and misplacing them.
Ultimately, when it comes to dental health and a more natural appearance, dental implants could be the better option.