The Pros and Cons of a Dental Implant

This model show the teeth have been capped and the stainless pin in the gums.

Let’s face it. Tooth loss happens. The primary goal of a dentist should always be to do whatever it takes to save a natural tooth, but that is not always possible.

Trauma, failed root canals, severe decay, and gum disease can all cause adults to lose permanent teeth. And some patients experience hypodontia, in which a tooth or teeth are never formed.

One option to replace a missing tooth is a dental implant. But what are the pros and cons of a dental implant?

At Metropolitan Dental, our Denver dentists will discuss the best option for you based on you and your situation. In many cases, the best option is a dental implant. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of dental implants.

What is a dental implant?

Teeth are comprised of several different parts, but the easiest way to understand the makeup of a tooth is to think about the parts of the tooth you can or can’t see. The visible part of the tooth is the crown. The part of the tooth below the gum line is the root.

If you have a cavity, this is usually fixable with a filling placed on the crown of your tooth. If, however, the decay is deep, you may need root canal therapy. This is the process of cleaning out the pulp, nerves, and blood vessels inside the root of the tooth.

If you have a broken, damaged, or decayed tooth that needs replacing, but your tooth root is healthy and intact, a dental crown or bridge is the best option.

However, if your tooth root is also missing, a dental implant may be the treatment of choice.

A dental implant is a titanium screw that is surgically implanted into the jawbone. While it replaces a missing tooth root, it requires a dental crown or bridge to replace the natural tooth crown.

Why do you care about the tooth root if you can’t see it?

For jawbone to remain healthy and intact, a tooth root is needed. When the root is missing, there is a hole left behind in the jaw. This causes your jawbone to deteriorate.

When the jawbone deteriorates, the face can sag and sink in. It can also cause adjacent teeth to become loose, leading to further tooth loss.

Can’t I just get a dental implant and not replace the missing tooth?

While a patient could get a dental implant and leave the gap from a missing tooth, this scenario is not ideal either.

A missing tooth affects the appearance of your smile, which can lead to issues with self-confidence. Most patients with a missing tooth smile less, and this can affect your attitude and outlook on life.

When a tooth is missing, the remaining teeth shift and become crooked or crowded. This can make it even more embarrassing to smile.

There are, however, more important issues than self-esteem. Dental implants are more than just cosmetics. Misaligned teeth make good oral hygiene harder. This puts you at an increased risk of decay and gum disease. Crooked teeth can also make speech, eating, and chewing more difficult.

It is always best to replace a missing tooth, even if you choose not to replace the tooth root.

What are the pros of a dental implant?

In the past, fixed bridges and dentures were the solutions for tooth loss. Today, however, dental implants are becoming more and more popular. Patients appreciate their aesthetics. They function and look like natural teeth.

There is more to a dental implant than just aesthetics, though.

Reasons Why a Dental Implant is a Good Idea:

  • Dental implants are fixed. You don’t have to worry about messy glues or embarrassing situations dentures can cause. They won’t cause a clicking or popping noise and won’t slip and slide when you eat. Also, you don’t have to worry about an ill-fit that can cause trauma, pain, or bad breath.
  • Dental implants are permanent. While dental bridges are also fixed and not removable, they are not permanent. Most bridges last approximately 10 years, which could mean having to go in and pay for a replacement bridge.
  • A dental bridge requires support from remaining natural teeth. These supporting teeth, called abutment teeth, must be filed down for placement of crowns that will anchor the bridge in place. This puts undue pressure on the abutment teeth and can shift or damage them. Implants do not require support from other teeth.
  • They keep you from losing precious bone. When the socket where a tooth root should be is empty, bone loss occurs. This causes facial structures to appear sunken and caved in, which makes you look older. Think about it—have you ever seen anyone who wears dentures when they don’t have their dentures in?
  • The bone loss causes more problems than a sunken-looking face. The jawbone supports all your teeth, as well as joints and muscles. When bone disintegrates, it affects all of them. This can cause you to lose more teeth and could cause issues with the alignment of your bite, which affects chewing. When patients have a hard time eating, nutrition is affected.
  • Dental implants are made of titanium, which the human body accepts easily. Not only do you not lose bone, but your body also sends bone cells to the implant to help fuse it in place. This is called osseointegration.

The Cons of Dental Implants

While not as significant as the pros, there are cons to dental implants to keep in mind.

  • Dental implants require surgery. While it is a safe and minor procedure, there are always risks with surgery. Generally, however, the biggest risk of surgery is anesthesia. In most cases, implants can be placed using only numbing medication. Potential risks include bleeding or injury to the nasal or sinus cavities.
  • You may be required additional dental work. If you do not have enough dense bone tissue to support an implant, you may need bone graft surgery. Some patients require a sinus lift surgery prior to the bone graft.
  • Getting a dental implant is not a quick fix. Many dentists use a surgical splint. While this does make the surgery safer and more precise, it can take time to have it made. Once placed, the implant can take 3-6 months for the implant to fuse to the jaw. Some patients, however, get a temporary cap while awaiting a permanent crown.
  • Infection is possible. Although, your dentist will most likely prescribe antibiotics to keep this from happening. Good post-op oral hygiene is also helpful.
  • Implants are costly. They are usually the most expensive option upfront. However, since they are permanent, they may be the cheapest long-term choice, as you won’t have to worry about replacement.

While there can be risks and drawbacks, dental implants are almost always the best option. If you have a missing or lost tooth, Metropolitan Dental in Denver, CO, can help. Call (303) 534-2626 or reach us online today to schedule a consultation.