Although dental implants have been used for around fifty to sixty years, it used to be that they were considered very much a last resort, and only really meant for those patients who really struggled with their dentures. However, with recent advances in cosmetic dentistry, and the accessibility thereof, people are beginning to realise that there is a better, more comfortable and potentially more permanent way. Dental implants, whereby a biocompatible titanium screw, inserted into the jawbone, replaces the failed root of the tooth with a prosthetic tooth, crown or bridge are becoming more and more popular. Whilst they’re still considered ‘cosmetic’ dentistry they bring far more benefits than just a lovely smile – they can improve speech which has been affected by tooth loss; improve eating and allow the patient to eat foods which may otherwise cause them a problem; prevent deterioration of the surrounding bone; have no negative impact on surrounding teeth and, due to their completely natural appearance and feel, dramatically improve confidence and self-esteem.
As with all cutting-edge techniques, people may have concerns about whether dental implants are for them, what problems may occur, and most commonly, how long will they last? After all, a smile is possibly the most clear and instant form of non-verbal communication and if that’s compromised then life in general can be adversely affected.
The simple – and rather reassuring - answer is that, as dental implants actually fuse with the bone, they could quite literally last a lifetime (although, as with other surgical implant procedures, there is no lifetime guarantee) and cared for correctly, should certainly last many years. This also makes them an economical solution in the longer term, as the initial treatment can cost little more than more conventional options. However – and this is a big however – this very much depends on two important aspects:
1. Expert Aftercare
This is why it is so crucial to ensure you use the very best specialist dental practice, one which has an exceptional reputation in dental implants and restorative dental treatment. When researching which to use, you will need a comprehensive examination and consultation resulting in a distinct and individual treatment plan detailing exactly what treatment is proposed, the total cost of the procedure, what experience the dentist has in this work, and what the alternatives, if any, could be.
They should provide clear guidance and instruction on how best to care for your implants along with regular maintenance appointments and ideally as much help and advice as you need, even long after treatment has finished.
2. Ongoing Hygiene Care
Meticulous hygiene, inter-dental cleaning, perhaps an anti-bacterial mouthwash and regular check-ups are imperative whether teeth are natural or not and the general health of the rest of the mouth and gums is fundamental to the success of implants – as well as the longevity of natural teeth.
Implants themselves do not decay but the build-up of plaque around the surrounding gum can cause inflammation which may even lead to peri-implantitis, a bacterial infection which causes gradual loss of the bone supporting the implant, and the ultimate failure of implants. Inadequate oral hygiene is the number one cause of failed dental implants.
A healthy diet, avoiding sugary foods as much as possible is also vital to all dental health and thus the success of implanted teeth, as is the avoidance of smoking.
Observation of common sense dental care and overall good health, along with an expert practitioner will give the very best chance of your implants lasting for a very long time – and give you reason to smile for many years to come.
Article supplied by London City Smiles, specialists in dental implants and cosmetic dentistry procedures.