In a matter of a few years only, dental implants have become very popular. They have pushed all other options including conventional dentures to the background, despite an appreciable difference in cost. This is not only due to any media campaign. Dental implant, in fact, have many merits which are not possessed by their alternatives such as dentures and bridges. I will discuss some of the major advantages of dental implants in the paragraphs below.
- Firm rooting: Dental implants are rigidly held by the jaw bone, as firmly as nuts and bolts in a machine. This is because the dental implant is in fact a metallic object screwed into the bone. Special alloys of titanium metal are employed for making the implants through state of the art metallurgical processes. In addition, due to the bone promoting capability of Titanium alloys, bone cells grow into the titanium surface through a process known as osseointegration, or bone integration. The artificial tooth or teeth are firmly attached to this post through a metallic abutment.
- Implant-supported dentures do not slip: Conventional dentures have a very serious limitation that they are not firmly rooted in the mouth. Rather, they are held by suction between the denture base and the gums. They can slip or fall out at the most inopportune moment causing serious embarrassment on social occasions and very intimate moments. Implant-supported dentures and teeth will not slip out because implants are firmly and permanently rooted in the jaw bone.
- Natural feel and function: Teeth supported on implants look and feel just like natural teeth because of this firm rooting. They also function like natural teeth posing virtually no limitations to the wearer.
- No special hygienic care is required: perhaps, one of my favorite positive points of implants in comparison to other teeth replacement options is that there is no special oral hygiene care required for them. On the other hand, if you have conventional dentures, hygiene is cumbersome. You need to remove the dentures for cleaning after eating and before going to be. Implant supported dentures are permanently fixed and should be brushed and flossed just like natural teeth.
- No need to remove and no special storage: Conventional dentures need to be removed at night. Whenever removed, they need to be stored in special storage solution for fear of shrinkage. Implants do not need any such care. Dentures also need extra care when removed for cleaning or storage. They are brittle and may break or crack. Cracked or scratched dentures should not be used because the scratch or crack can house infection. Implants are totally free of any such possibility because they are permanently attached.
- No bone loss: Dental implants prevent bone loss (bone resorption) as would occur around jaw bone that does not have teeth. Additionally, bone resorption is rather accelerated when you start wearing removable dentures. On the other hand, implants encourage bone growth through a process called osseointegration (bone integration). Bone cells physically grow into the metal surface of the titanium implant.
- Long life: in my experience dentures tend to last for three to four years, despite extensive care. After that duration, they need to be replaced. Implants are prepared from highly durable materials, and are virtually for life.
- Repair and maintenance: Implants need no repair and maintenance, except for a possible visit for tightening a loose screw. This is in contrast with conventional dentures which frequently need relining or even replacement. Also, maintanence of removable dentures is also difficult, since they need to washed and cleansed regularly, and they are prone to immediate fracture in case they are accidentally dropped.
- High success rate: The success rate of implants is close to 98 percent as reported in dentistry literature. This is a very high rate of success unmatched by any other restoration.
- Cost-effectiveness: No doubt implants are expensive upfront. However, when we add the repair and replacement costs associated with dentures, and the intangible advantages of the implant, the latter come out to be really cost-effective. So, I wouldn’t consider the initial high cost of implants as a drawback.
Are you wondering why dental implants are so durable and long lasting? This is due to the phenomenon of ossoeintegration. In the next pages, I will discuss how ossoeintegration plays a vital role in ensuring excellent stability, durability and retention of implant-supported prostheses.