Should I Get Dental Implants?
Many people can immediately grasp the cosmetic benefits of dental implants. They restore gaps in our smile, or replace teeth that are imperfect or incomplete in appearance. This enables people to feel more confident and to be themselves. It can have positive impacts on mental health and wellbeing.
However, as your dentist will explain, there are actually a range of other reasons to get dental implants that aren’t related to the visual impact of having missing teeth. Reasons to get dental implants or tooth implants include to:
- Preserve your facial structure. Implants will help to preserve the jawbone. If missing teeth are allowed to remain missing, then the jawbone may start to deteriorate and lose substance. Implants can help to maintain this structure and to stabilise the jaw. Bone loss may also impact the appearance of the face, even when the mouth is closed. It can result in a sunken face appearance that timely implants can help to counteract.
- Support other dental work. Even when used without dental crowns (the traditional method), implants can still form a stable base for dental bridges or bridgework, and for dentures. This can add security to these two other dental treatment methods for missing teeth, while still delivering on the other bone-related benefits of implants.
- Maintain other teeth. Implants can help to keep the other natural teeth in their current position. If there is a gap over a long period of time, pressures can act upon the surrounding teeth and they can follow the path of least resistance, closing into this gap. It can also occur that a gap on the bottom row of teeth impacts the placement of those on top, and vice versa. However, implants keep teeth better positioned, and therefore easier to clean. Also, other treatment methods such as dental bridges may require that other teeth are ‘prepared’ before they are bonded with a crown. In the case of a dental bridge, one missing tooth can end up impacting as many as two other teeth; whereas a dental implant does not influence or impact the other teeth.
- Eat and chew effectively. Missing teeth can impact our ability to eat and chew. By restoring the pattern of teeth that we are used to, which is effective for eating and chewing and speaking, we can help to maintain function and thrive in everyday life from social and nutritional perspectives.
- Keep on living a lifestyle we are accustomed to. Dental implants look and feel like real teeth. Once they are established, they do not require us to adjust our habits. We do not need to remove them and clean them; in fact, they stay in place permanently like a normal tooth. This means we don’t have to significantly alter our lifestyle. Unlike some other methods, such as dentures which are removable, they do not impact one’s ability to speak. They enable you to continue eating the foods you want to eat, including hard foods. With a gap in the mouth, it can be hard to chew properly, or to chew without pain.
When do you need dental implants?
Dental implants from your dentist are a well-known replacement option for missing teeth.
Causes of this tooth loss may include tooth decay; sporting incidents through contact or highly physical sports; dental trauma incurred in everyday life (for example, accidentally biting on something hard or opening a packet with your teeth); or cracked teeth that fall out.
When a person is suffering from a missing tooth, they should seek dental advice straight away, but some people give it time – after or without having sought advice. Some people initially avoid treatment for missing teeth until problems start to emerge and motivate them to have a tooth implant at their dentist. Others may seek alternative, cheaper treatments initially, such as dentures or dental bridges. However, they may ultimately decide that these treatment measures aren’t working or are causing discomfort, and decide to receive dental implants.
It is important to note that time is of the essence, because if it is left missing for a long time, it can become harder to get dental implants later on due to changes to your surrounding teeth, gums and jaw.
If you have recently lost a tooth, you should arrange an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to discuss your options. If you lost the tooth in a sporting incident, there may actually be a chance of restoring the natural tooth if you seek emergency dental treatment promptly on the day of the incident and follow necessary precautions.
What if my tooth isn’t missing yet?
Dental implants are known as a replacement option for missing teeth. However, you may also have a dental implant installed by your dentist in place of a tooth that is failing or problematic but still currently in position. Which is to say, sometimes a dental implant procedure is preceded by a deliberate tooth extraction undertaken by your dentist.
A patient and the dentist may decide together to remove and replace a tooth. This may be a process that can be anticipated from a long way off, due to advancing tooth decay for example, with the awareness that one day an extraction and implant will be necessary. In the case of an infection of the tooth, it can also happen quite quickly and unexpectedly.
Your dentist may advise that you have your tooth extracted for a number of reasons. These reasons may include the following:
- Infected tooth. You have a tooth infection or tooth abscess that is too far advanced for the natural tooth to be saved by a root canal procedure. This can occur if the infection is too widespread; for example, if it has already infected the root of the tooth. This can pose a situation where the infection can spread to neighbouring teeth or even impact overall health. Therefore, an extraction may be advised, and part of the continuous care you may receive could include a dental implant to fill this gap.
- Chipped tooth. A tooth may become chipped through a sporting incident or other incident where the tooth has come into contact with a hard surface, such as slipping and hitting the tooth on the bathtub. When an incident like this occurs, it is possible that the tooth will be able to be covered with a same day crown from your dentist, and in this way, given a second lease on life. However, sometimes the tooth may be damaged in such a way that it does not provide a surface for bonding with a crown. To restore the tooth to a full tooth, it may therefore be necessary to remove the natural tooth, and undertake a dental implant procedure.
- Cracked or fractured teeth. Sometimes our teeth may have hairline cracks that we cannot see, but which occasionally result in excruciating pain – for example, when we eat, apply pressure when biting, or consume food and drink that is hot or cold. Cracks can appear in different shapes and forms, and may include a fractured cusp, or a crack which extends from the crown and down to the tooth root. If left for a long time, a cracked tooth can actually split in half. If the damage is extensive, then a root canal procedure or dental crown may not be enough to save it. An extraction may need to be undertaken and followed up with a dental implant by your dentist.
Can I get dental implants?
Just because you are experiencing one of the situations outlined above, or another similar to it, it does not necessarily mean that you will be eligible for dental implants. Your dentist will want to examine your oral health and ask questions before they can recommend dental implants as an appropriate solution for you. Most people can get dental implants. You are most likely to be a suitable candidate for dental implants if you:
- Follow a good oral hygiene routine and experience good overall oral health. Dental implants are not prone to decay, like our natural teeth are, but they still require care. If we have healthy teeth and gums, we are more likely to be able to get dental implants. If we experience gingivitis or periodontitis, this may not be the case.
- Do not suffer from a medical condition or take certain medications. Some people may suffer from medical conditions that impact their bone strength or healing capabilities (such as certain autoimmune diseases or diabetes). They may also have to take medications for conditions, which can impact their suitability.
- Have a strong jawbone. This does not mean that one has to have a prominent jaw. Implants depend upon enough bone being present, and it being in good healthy condition, for the implant to be able to fuse with the jawbone over time, before the permanent crown is applied. Your dentist may need to assess this with an X-ray and through examination. It is possible that there will be insufficient bone if a person has suffered from bone atrophy, due to having missing teeth for a long time – this demonstrates that timely implants may be important to long term oral wellbeing. Similarly, a person may have insufficient bone due to simple anatomical factors, including overly large sinuses.
- Do not smoke. This is because smoking can impact gum and tooth health, the body’s ability to heal, and interfere with the strength of the implant’s connection with the jawbone.
- You are over around 20 years of age. If you or your children are any younger than this, then your jaw may still be growing.
Even if the above factors apply to you, it may simply be a matter of discussing your options with a dentist. Often, following treatment, behavioural change, or other measures, it can be possible for those who are not initially suitable to have dental implants.
Are dental implants affordable?
Dental implants are a comparably complex procedure that requires specialised knowledge and often the use of anaesthetic. Therefore, the dental implant procedure is often more expensive than other alternatives for replacing missing teeth such as dental bridges and dentures. However, many people are still willing to pay for the best solution to missing teeth.
Generally speaking, dental implants are not covered under Medicare. If you have extras coverage with your private health insurance policy, you may receive some money back which will help to make the procedure affordable for you.
Implants can cost anywhere between $2000 and $7000, with the cost depending on the type of implant, its complexity, and the dentist that is undertaking the procedure. To make your decision, it is best to discuss your options with your dentist to gain a transparent concept of the pricing and make an informed decision that suits your personal life and goals.
If dental implants are not right for you, your dentist can also discuss other options for replacing your missing teeth. They can provide a transparent assessment of the pros and cons, the risks and rewards, the costs, and timelines of all possible treatment procedures to replace your missing or problematic teeth.
Where to get dental implants in west Brisbane
Are you looking for dental implants in Brisbane? River City Dental is a leading provider of tooth implants in Brisbane, Indooroopilly, and surrounding areas. Our friendly team will support you through the dental implant process.
Our implant treatments are offered by our leading Indooroopilly dentist, Dr John Bacalakis, who has undertaken extensive postgraduate studies in implant dentistry and is a member of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists.
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