Although dental care continues to improve dramatically, tooth loss is still prevalent. Worse, many of those suffering tooth loss believe that the only safe and reliable treatment option is dentures. That’s because despite being one of the most reliable cosmetic dentistry procedures, dental implants are misunderstood.

Dental implants consist of two main components, the titanium root inserted into the jaw which interfaces with bone, and the crown which attaches to the root.

If you’ve been suffering with tooth loss and are considering dental implants, here are three common misunderstandings we’d like to clear up.

mature woman taking a walk down an empty road

Myth: Most People Can’t Get Dental Implants

You might think that you have to be a rare specimen to get dental implants. The truth is, to be a dental candidate, you only need to meet three requirements. You must be:

  • Missing one or more teeth
  • In good health for surgery
  • Old enough that your jaw has stopped growing

Dental implants replace missing teeth, so you can’t get dental implants unless you have one or more missing teeth. Placing dental implants is a surgical procedure, so it’s important to make sure you’re healthy enough for the procedure before we start. Dr. Michael Kuzma might ask you to confirm this with your doctor. Finally, it’s important that your jaw be mature before we place dental implants. Dental implants don’t move as easily as natural teeth with jaw growth, so it’s best to wait.

Other characteristics might require additional treatment. If, for example, you have gum disease, we might want to treat it before placing implants. And if you lack enough bone to secure dental implants, we might recommend a bone graft before the procedure (though sometimes we can do this when we place the implants).

If you are a smoker or have other health conditions, your risk of complications might be higher, but you will still likely have good results if you follow instructions before and after implant placement.

Myth: Dental Implants Only Replace Certain Teeth

Some people think that dental implants can only be used if you’re missing all your teeth. Other people think that dental implants can only be used to replace a single individual tooth.

The truth is that dental implants are highly flexible. They can replace any number of teeth, from just a single tooth to an entire set of teeth. 

Nor are dental implants restricted in which teeth they replace. Dental implants can replace your front teeth (incisors) or back teeth (molars), and anything in between. Depending on the position of the tooth, how long you’ve been missing your natural tooth, and how healthy your jaw is, we might need a bone graft before placing an implant. This doesn’t keep you from getting implants there, though it might delay it.

Myth: Dental Implants Look Unnatural

This common misconception is unsurprising considering that we tend to assume that any dental apparatus can’t possibly look natural. Coupled with this, the phrase “titanium implant” can be misleading, creating the image of a metal tooth.

The truth is that “titanium” refers to the root inserted into the jaw bone. What is actually visible is the “crown,” which is constructed of high-tech porcelain that is both incredibly durable and natural-looking, the luster of the porcelain mimicking that of tooth enamel.

Myth: Implants Require Too Much Upkeep

The rule of dental implant maintenance is a simple one: care for them like you’d care for your natural teeth. Brushing and flossing twice a day, and visiting the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings is all you have to do to maintain your implants.

Once the procedure is completed and your healing period is over, not even your diet has to change. The biggest worry about dental implants is periodontal disease, which can be avoided by maintaining your oral hygiene.

Myth: Dental Implants Often Fail

The truth is that dental implants have a very high success rate. About 98% of dental implants are initially successful–bonding with the bone and remaining in place for at least a year.

Nor are they likely to fail soon after that. Long-term survival rates up to 20 or 30 years often exceed 90% in clinical studies. When properly maintained, dental implants can last a lifetime (some patients have had them for over 50 years). 

Myth: Implants Are a Waste of Money

Many mistakenly believe that dental implants are only a cosmetic luxury, and aren’t worth the time or money. The truth is that losing teeth can impact your mouth in several ways. Our jaw has the incredible ability to constantly rebuild itself. When we lose teeth, however, and the stimulation of chewing disappears, our jaws actually lose bone and muscle, causing a sunken look in our cheeks. Tooth loss can also cause other teeth to shift, impacting bite and putting your remaining teeth at a greater risk.

Implants have been shown to significantly improve a person’s quality of life over traditional dentures. So when you’re looking at the cost of dental implants, consider them an investment in your quality of life for the rest of your life. Then you’ll see their true value.

Replace Missing Teeth in Wilmington, NC

Worried about your jaw or appearance, please call (910) 392-6060 today for an appointment with implant dentist Dr. Michael Kuzma at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry.