Losing one or more of your teeth starts a chain of events that can have dire physical and cosmetic consequences. The most obvious result is a gap in your smile. Less obvious is the loss of chewing function and the inability to eat a complete diet that can result from tooth loss. While these are certainly serious issues, a potentially bigger problem lies hidden beneath the surface: bone loss.
Traditional treatment options for tooth replacement, Crown & Bridge and full or partial dentures, address the short-term cosmetic problem of missing teeth, but do nothing to stop bone loss. Crown & Bridge also requires that two or more healthy teeth be ground down to serve as abutments (posts) for a bridge, leaving them at a much greater risk for cavities and endodontic failure. If the original abutment teeth fail, more healthy teeth must be sacrificed to serve as posts, while you continue to lose bone beneath the bridge.
Dental implants can be placed in most adults who are in good to moderate health. They are not typically placed in adolescents until they have reached their full expected physical maturity. Certain uncontrolled medical conditions may decrease the effectiveness of implant treatment, so be sure to discuss your full medical history with your doctor before beginning treatment.
Even early civilizations recognized the benefit of tooth replacement. Archeologists have recovered ancient skulls where teeth were replaced by materials such as cast iron and carved sea shells. Despite primitive methods and materials, some of these early implants actually fused with the bone. This fusion is called osseointegration, and is necessary for implants to be successful.
Modern dental implants are precision devices, available in several different designs to address your specific needs. The most common type is a titanium screw that is anchored into the jawbone where it serves as post for a custom-made tooth crown. Once the crown is in place, you may not be able to tell it apart from your natural teeth.