The Pros and Cons of Dental Implants

Dental implants are one of the most successful procedures available to dentists today. Replacing missing teeth can change a patient’s entire lifestyle but the decision to endure surgery can be a difficult one to make. Taking a look at the pros and cons of dental implants may help you gain a better understanding of the treatment, and better prepare you for your new smile!

Any surgery can be a cause for concern but at Allred Dental, we want you to be informed about your oral health. Patients in the Encinitas, Oceanside, and San Marcos areas know they can trust our expert staff to provide the best care possible. Call our San Marcos, CA dental office today to schedule a consultation and discuss your dental needs!

Advantages of Dental Implants

Because dental implants are long-term solutions, it’s important to understand not only the ease of the procedure but also how having implants will affect your life. A closer look at these benefits may help you determine if dental implants are right for you.

Lasting a Lifetime

There are a number of techniques dentists have in their repertoire for replacing missing teeth. Bridgework attaches to your natural dentition to fill gaps with crowns, but this involves shaving down the supporting teeth. Partial dentures are removable and have the capability of adding more false teeth as necessary. They are easier to clean but their removability means they can fall out if not seated properly. 

Flippers are single-tooth partial dentures that look like natural dentition but suffer the same problems as their larger counterparts. In addition, many patients also find wearing dentures to be quite uncomfortable after a while. Dental implants, on the other hand, are surgically inserted into the jaw bone and become stronger and more stable as time passes.

Implants have a screw design that lets your dentist easily fit them into the jawbone. Constructed from titanium, the material reacts with the patient’s jaw exceedingly well and promotes osseointegration or the growth of bone around the implant. This keeps your implant securely in place and once a crown is attached, it will act just like your natural teeth!

The Natural Look

There’s more to dental implants than just feeling natural. Methods used to replace teeth may also be indistinguishable from a patient’s original ones. The crowns used as false dentition can be made from a variety of materials, and are usually fabricated off-site. Labs devoted to crafting crowns take some time to ensure that the piece fits well, looks realistic, and feels natural. To create these false teeth, technicians sculpt them using a variety of materials, including:

  • Solid Metal (Gold, Stainless Steel)
  • Solid Porcelain
  • Porcelain-Fused Metal
  • Composite Resin
  • Zirconia

While a metal tooth will obviously stand out, some patients prefer the knowledge that their replacements are extra durable and won’t chip or crack. The other materials such as porcelain and resin can easily be color-matched to your own teeth. This can make your replacements disappear amongst your other teeth, making no one the wiser!

Preventing Bone Loss

As people age, bone loss can become a big issue. Missing teeth don’t provide any pressure-related force into the jawbone, and without that stimulation, the jaw may begin to deteriorate. Using dentures may even exacerbate that issue, as chewing with them inserted mainly puts on the gums.

The loss of bone density may contribute to painful chewing and can distort the face. Titanium implants not only contribute to osseointegration but they also continually apply that pressure directly to the jaw. By doing so, this reinforces bone density and helps to stave off any further damage. 

Easy to Care For

One of the keys to maintaining excellent oral health is close attention to dental hygiene. Alternatives to dental implants are removable, which may make you think they are easier to care for. Unfortunately, the opposite is usually true. Partial and full dentures need special cleaning solutions to keep them looking clean and feeling fresh. They can also fall out, get lost or thrown away, damaging them or even misplacing them forever. Bridges also require unique tools such as flossers to help you clean underneath the false teeth.

Dental Implants just don’t have those issues. Once your crown is attached, cleaning the area is as simple as the rest of your hygiene routine. Biannual dental visits will ensure everything is seated properly as well. With regular brushing and flossing, the crown may last around 10 to 20 years. Many find the “fix and forget” aspect of dental implants as the primary reason for electing to have the surgery.

An Investment in Your Future

The permanence of dental implants means they are going to be in your mouth for a long time.  Many patients have issues when trying to find coverage for the procedure. Some insurance doesn’t include dental implants, making the cost seen too high for budget-conscious clients.

In reality, even without coverage implants may still be the better choice. Dentures and other removable options have the propensity to become damaged or lost. More permanent solutions such as bridges secured by existing teeth might leave existing dentition vulnerable to infection and decay. Using dental implants, patients can be secure knowing their treatment can last almost indefinitely, only needing to replace crowns as they wear out naturally.

Drawbacks of Dental Implants

Just like any other surgical procedure, the procedure has its own disadvantages. While some patients find the benefits outweigh the drawbacks when discussing the pros and cons of dental implants, others may decide they are reason enough to find alternative solutions. 

Low Bone Density

Implants need something to anchor to, and a patient with low bone density in their jaw will have a tough time with this treatment. Without enough bone for osseointegration, it will be impossible for the implant to firmly seat itself. This can lead to wiggling and other movements, which in turn may damage the jaw even further.

Dentists can alleviate this problem with an additional step. Some patients see a lot of results with bone grafting. This adds extra bone to the jaw, creating a stable place in which to install the dental implant. After the area has healed, your jaw will be ready to accept the titanium rod with ease.

Time-Intensive Process

Another aspect of dental implants is the time it takes for a patient to go through the entire treatment plan. An initial visit involves taking measurements, x-rays, and molds to help get the fit precise and determine bone density. If this is low, a grafting procedure may be needed and must heal before the implant surgery can progress. 

Implanting the titanium rod requires another appointment and will need to heal as well before the abutment will be set into place. An abutment is a connector that links a crown to its artificial root. This will also need some healing time, but a temporary crown may offer a semblance of natural feeling until the final crown has been prepared. From start to finish, the entire process might take from 6 months to over a year.

Implantation Requires Surgery

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved in the dental implant process. The area can be a source of infection, and repeated surgeries only exacerbate that issue. Patients who have problems with anesthesia may wish to avoid the treatment as well. There are a number of ailments that can disqualify you from getting dental implants as well, including:

  • Significant jawbone loss
  • Blood illnesses that prevent clotting and/or healing
  • Poor physical health
  • Major decay and poor oral health
  • Smoking/using tobacco products

Patients who smoke are urged to quit before the treatment begins. Even though dental implant surgeries have around a 90% to 95% success rate, using tobacco products will greatly affect the healing process. The substance has a detrimental effect on bone, slowing or even halting osseointegration in its tracks. For some doctors, such a procedure isn’t even an option for smokers.

Coming to a Conclusion

Patients have a lot to think about when weighing the pros and cons of dental implants. While missing teeth may cause difficulty eating and speaking, some people aren’t ready to devote a significant period of time to fixing the problem. Even so, most people look at the investment in a permanent oral health solution as one that is too beneficial to ignore. The durable, long-lasting and visually appealing nature of the treatment outstrips the alternatives, resulting in a smile that endures. 

It is normal to be cautious and apprehensive concerning implant surgery. At Allred Dental, we want you to feel confident when making oral health decisions. If you have more questions about the efficacy of dental implants and live in the Encinitas, Oceanside, or San Marcos, CA, areas, don’t hesitate to call our office. Call our expert clinicians to schedule an appointment. We’re ready to help you renew your confidence with the kind of smile that only Allred Dental can bring!

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