Do you have missing teeth? Restoring your smile with dental implants in The Woodlands can boost your self-confidence and ensure a balanced diet. Replacing missing teeth means being able to speak clearly, smile around your friends and family, and support the alignment of the other teeth in your mouth. Even though treatments like dental bridges and partial dentures are a popular option, there’s a better one to consider: dental implants with our periodontal specialist, Dr. Saunders.
What Are Dental Implants?
If you’re not familiar with the dental implant concept, it’s one where we use a restoration that’s modeled after anatomical teeth. Each one sets independently in your mouth and doesn’t require adjacent teeth for support.
Technically speaking, today’s dental implants are regarded as the gold standard for tooth replacement treatment over more conventional methods. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. An Implant is Stronger Than a Tooth
Dental implants are the “root” portion of your new “tooth”. Each one is crafted from titanium, which is an extremely durable metal alloy. In fact, it’s even stronger than natural tooth enamel (which is the hardest substance in the entire human body.)
The strength of titanium dental implants means that they’re capable of supporting the weight of more than one tooth. That’s why it’s frequently an option to pair implants together instead of placing one in each specific location where a tooth is missing. Their integrity can withstand the weight of chewing and biting forces even better than anatomical teeth are capable of.
A strong dental implant set into your bone can also help to support the structures around it. Since many people experience bone loss once a tooth is removed, placing an implant directly into that site will help to counteract the resorption process so that you can eat the same way you always did.
Titanium implants can’t erode or decay like natural teeth. They’re practically invincible. Acids and bacteria won’t wear them out (however, you’ll still need to keep your supporting gum tissues healthy!) That’s why medical experts also use titanium for other procedures, such as joint replacements or other bone-related types of reinforcement. It won’t weaken the bone that it’s installed within, but rather it helps to strengthen it.
Even though your implants can hold up to practically anything, you won’t want to use your teeth for opening packages or habits like biting your nails. Since we still place a custom restoration over them, you’ll want to care for the porcelain properly so that it doesn’t chip away. That being said, they’ll have the best and strongest support system underneath them as possible.
2. Implants are Non-Invasive to Adjacent Teeth
Dental implants are the only fixed dental restoration that is non-invasive to your healthy, adjacent teeth. How? Because they stand independent of all the teeth around them. They don’t rely on other teeth for support — and most importantly — they don’t require altering the natural shape and integrity of their neighbors.
In contrast, traditional dental bridges are set over healthy, intact teeth. When they’re installed, they require the removal of healthy tooth enamel in order to create space for the bridge to fit over the supporting teeth. That means otherwise virgin teeth are drilled down for the sake of a neighboring tooth.
The better option would to, of course, leave these teeth alone instead of altering their structural integrity. But you can’t do that with a dental bridge.
On the other hand, there’s always the option of a removable partial denture. But even partials sometimes have clasps that wrap around teeth for support, and these tiny extensions can detract from overall aesthetics and require minor alteration or rubbing to those respective teeth.
So, back to dental implants. An implant doesn’t require any type of adjustment to the adjacent teeth where it’s installed. We can leave those teeth totally alone and then place the implant where the missing tooth is. Once the implant is topped off with the fixed restoration, it fits in with your overall bite the same way the previous tooth did. Yes, there will be some minimal contact with the next tooth in alignment, but that’s exactly what you would see if you were assessing natural anatomical teeth. In other words, you’ll be able to floss around it normally and nothing is permanently attached to the other teeth in your mouth.
3. You Can Use Implants in Pairs for Multi-Tooth Restoration
Traditional dental implant treatments use a single implant and crown to replace one individual tooth. But since implants are extremely strong and capable of supporting intense amounts of pressure, you can use them in sets for replacing more than one tooth at a time.
Instead of a one-to-one ratio of implants to each tooth that’s missing, we can use two or four of them to support the weight of a much longer prosthesis.
For instance, let’s say that you’re missing 3-4 teeth in a row. Since a traditional bridge wouldn’t be stable enough to place on the natural teeth on either end of such a large gap — and you don’t want to wear a partial denture — we can place two dental implants with one at either side of the space. Then we use those two implants to support a porcelain bridge. Nothing is attached to the teeth because your implants are capable of supporting the entire prosthesis. It’s fairly common to only need two implants to replace 3-4 teeth at a time.
Implants can also be paired together in sets of 4-6 for full-arch restorations. What that means is that a fixed, hybrid appliance such as TeethXpress can replace all of your upper or lower teeth at one time. You won’t need as many implants even though the prosthesis is longer, simply because the implants are capable of supporting such an extensive amount of biting pressure. For full-arch restoration, you’re essentially replacing 14 teeth at a time with just 4-6 implants total. That’s less than a 1:3 implant to tooth ratio!
You’ll definitely want to consider this reason for getting implants when it comes to the cost of treatment. Many people assume they need an implant for each tooth that’s missing; fortunately, that’s just not the case (unless you’re only replacing a single tooth.)
4. Implant Materials are Biocompatible, Hypoallergenic
For those people who have sensitive skin, are allergic to certain metals, or even break out to certain types of jewelry, you may be wondering if placing a dental implant into your body is safe.
Dental implants are 100% hypoallergenic and biocompatible. Your body can easily accept the structure as part of your natural anatomy. In fact, it will go so far as to fuse a new layer of bone onto the implant surface. We call this process “osseointegration” and it’s what stabilizes the implant inside of your mouth.
Even if you have metal sensitivity, titanium dental implants are safe. That’s why the material is also used for surgical procedures and joint replacements. Any type of reaction to the material is practically non-existent.
Once your implants are fully integrated, your body won’t really even know the difference. The gums and bone will be nice and tight around them, the same way they would anatomical teeth.
If you’re extremely hypersensitive to metals to the point that you’ve had your dentist remove old amalgam fillings for fear of a reaction, it’s possible to get allergy testing done to determine if you’re at risk of some type of titanium allergy. However, this is so rare that it’s not something that we usually even suggest. Titanium is one of the safest materials we can surgically install into our bodies and is by far one of the best options for replacing missing teeth.
5. Implant Placement Supports Bone and Facial Features
Implants make your smile whole again. Any time we lose teeth, we also lose that reinforcement behind the soft tissues of our lips and cheeks. Once the extra space is created and there’s no tooth behind your skin, your soft tissues can start to “sink in” around your face. There result is a sullen, prematurely aged appearance.
Plus, the lack of teeth can “shorten” the height of your bite or jaw. So, if you’re dealing with the loss of multiple teeth, it can make your face look shorter when your mouth is closed. You’ve probably seen facial profile shots of people with missing teeth or with their dentures out, and it can look as if they have extremely short jaws. Although this may seem like an aesthetic problem that causes premature aging, the anatomical changes can also impact the overall function of your TMJ.
Additionally, losing teeth causes the bone in that site to begin shrinking or resorbing. So, the longer you go with a missing tooth, the more bone you’ll lose. Even if you have teeth on either side of that space, they’ll also be at risk because of the lapse in bone support on one side. It’s a lose-lose situation to be in.
Now back to dental implants. Titanium implants trigger that process of “osseointegration” that we mentioned before. When the implant is installed, it triggers a fine layer of new bone development immediately surrounding the implant structure which then fuses it into place. The dental implant essentially becomes a permanent part of your oral anatomy.
When you combine the bone health benefits with the anatomical shape of the dental implants, you’re basically recreating the support your face needs under your lips and cheeks. The implants minimize bone loss and add both depth and volume to your profile. So even if you have missing teeth, the implants counteract that premature aging process you typically see with tooth loss.
6. They’re Easy to Care for and Maintain
Taking care of dental implants is as easy as brushing and flossing. In fact, to help them last as long as possible you’ll want to treat them like natural teeth. That means everyday oral hygiene and regular preventive care appointments (usually every six months.)
The key to your implants’ success is to keep your gum tissues healthy. So, anything you’d do to prevent and reverse gingivitis around anatomical teeth is the same thing you would do around dental implants. You’ll want to brush the gumlines gently at least twice a day, floss around your implants daily, and then of course have them professionally cleaned on an intermittent basis.
What about multi-tooth implant restorations, such as a bridge or TeethXpress treatment? Since weaving the floss underneath your fixed prosthesis may not be as convenient as you wish it was, another alternative is to use a water flosser. In fact, water flossers are probably one of the safest and most effective ways to clean around implants and other types of dental work. Simply aim the stream of water toward the gumlines and trace around each tooth and implant.
We also recommend investing in a high-quality electric toothbrush in addition to your water flosser. Although it’s perfectly fine to use a manual toothbrush on dental implants, electric versions will provide an extra level of clean for plaque removal and also help stimulate your gum tissues for improved oxygenation.
7. Getting Implants Installed Can be Simple in Many Cases
Dental implant placement in The Woodlands can range from extremely straightforward to quite complex. Simple implant therapies can actually be completed with a small amount of local anesthetic, due to their minimally-invasive nature.
You might think that getting dental implants requires extensive and complex surgery. While some cases are more challenging because of additional factors, not all of them are. Especially if you’re planning to have a tooth removed or only recently just lost one.
Even though a typical implant therapy is spaced over a few months, the time requirements don’t always reflect the complexity of the case. Rather, it’s simply to provide ample time for allowing the osseointegration process to complete itself. Rushing through anything — simple or not — could result in unwanted side-effects. But when you have an expert like Dr. Saunders guiding you through the process one-on-one, you’ll know exactly what to expect.
For those individuals who may have extensive bone loss, a history of gum disease, or require sinus surgery, we can still help. Although your implant may not be as “simple” as others, it’s still an area of care that Dr. Saunders specializes in.
8. Today’s Implants Provide the Best Return on Investment
When it comes to maximizing your investment in your smile, Conroe dental implants are second to none. They outlast and outperform every other type of restoration in the modern dental practice. Unlike other types of dental work, implants are the only ones out there with the potential to last the entire rest of your life (or at least decades on end.)
You might be asking, “how can dental implants be the more affordable option?” Even if they do require a slightly higher investment initially, you have to look at the overall course of your smile’s lifespan. Treatments like traditional bridges (anchored over natural teeth) or removable dentures have to be changed out every several years. Each time you update something like a conventional bridge, it requires re-treating the supporting tooth and altering its integrity. Over time all of that alteration could lead to additional loss of teeth. Ever update costs additional amounts of money.
On the other hand, dental implants are more of a once and done type of treatment. Instead of cumulative costs and treatments over the years, you’re making a long-term investment from the very beginning. Even if your restoration on top of the implant needs to be updated at some point, the implants themselves shouldn’t ever need to be replaced. You’re essentially saving money by making the smarter long-term investment up front. Regardless of what your dental insurance coverage looks like, even with financing, you can save money on your smile’s future needs by investing in the dental implants from the very get-go.
If you have concerns about the cost of dental implants in The Woodlands or Conroe area, one of the best things to do is work with an expert who specializes in implant therapy. Dr. Saunders’ office will be able to walk you through the claims and benefits process to help maximize the coverage you have, and guide you through affordable payment options that easily fit into your budget. That way you won’t have to wait months or years to help your smile look whole and healthy again.
9. Implants are Modeled After Natural Teeth
There’s only one tooth replacement treatment that — as a whole — mimics the size, shape, and function of natural teeth. And that’s dental implants. The implant itself serves as the “root” portion of your tooth replacement, resting inside of your bone just next to the other teeth.
Since the implant integrates with your bone like a natural tooth root, it’s essentially like having an anatomical tooth all over again. The only difference is that it’s made of something else.
Individual implant cases most resemble natural teeth, because they’re topped off with a single porcelain crown. They blend in with your smile and floss can easily slip down on either side of the tooth, because it stands independently from everything else. But even if you’re using a pair or set of implants to support multi-tooth restorations (like bridges or TeethXpress) you’ll still get the benefits of maximum aesthetics and functionality. The only difference is that you’ll still need a floss threader or water flosser to clean underneath a longer restoration.
Thanks to the streamlined shape of implants, you’re also able to enjoy a fixed restoration that feels more like your natural teeth. There’s no bulky “plate” across the roof of your mouth or extra clasps wrapping around teeth. Plus, you won’t have something that’s removable and able to rock, slip, or slide during the day. Your customized implant crowns, bridges, or extended hybrid restoration will fit and feel like a comfortable part of your smile.
When your implants and restorations feel natural, it makes everyday things like smiling, speaking, and eating as easy as possible!
10. Dental Implants Can Last for Life
Last but not least, dental implants outlast and outperform every other type of restoration available. When you need to replace missing teeth and want your investment to last as long as possible, dental implants are the choice option.
The success rate of dental implants is 98%. To prevent any complications or failure, you’ll want to keep your supporting gum and bone tissues as healthy as possible through good home care. The biggest risk to implants is peri-implantitis, which is the implant form of gum disease. Fortunately, if you’re dedicated to your hygiene routine, that shouldn’t be a problem.
One of the reasons implants last so long is, again, the osseointegration process that fuses them permanently into your bone. Once they’re integrated, they’re not going anywhere (as long as your tissues stay healthy.)
Choosing a dental implant specialist to perform your treatment is one of the most important ways to ensure the best treatment outcome. Dr. Saunders has physically placed thousands of dental implants throughout his career, so he’s extremely familiar with the most complex and difficult of cases. Even if you’ve been told that you’re not a candidate for implant therapy, partnering with our expert periodontist in The Woodlands could be the answer you’ve been searching for.
Dental implants paired with the skill of a specialist are a recipe for success when it comes to restoring your smile, regardless of how many teeth are missing. We’re committed to being your partner for a successful implant experience that’s life-changing for years and decades to come.
Dental Implants in The Woodlands, Conroe
Dr. Kip Saunders is one of Conroe’s most experienced and respected dental implant specialists. With over three decades of practice behind him as a licensed expert, Dr. Saunders is able to provide streamlined and predictable implant therapy for a wide variety of patients in the North Houston area.
Whether you’re missing one tooth or all of them, an expert like Dr. Saunders on your side will ensure an implant experience like none other. Contact our specialty center today to reserve a one-on-one consultation.