The purposes of dental implants
For thousands of years, the work of the “dentist” consisted of basically nothing more than removing and replacing aching teeth. Now, with three other methods of treatment -- filling cavities, performing root canal therapy and crowning teeth -- at their disposal, dentists resort to extraction only if the decay is so severe as to render all of these alternative methods impossible. Still, dental prosthetics are commonly made today, and they frequently need to be supported by something underlying them -- and that is where the benefits of dental implants come into play.
A strong substance, such as titanium or some kind of ceramic, is used as the primary construction material for the implant. It is to this that the jawbone tightly fuses; the process by which such fusion occurs is known as osteointegration, from the Greek word ?st???, meaning bone. A well-made implant can maintain its hold for many years without weakening. Some of the benefits of dental implants will be described below.
Compared with other methods of treatment
Of all dental prosthetics, implants come closest to creating the appearance of natural, healthy teeth -- and can even feel and function that way too! Nor do they cause the bones to deteriorate, distort the shape of your face or make it difficult to eat, smile or talk. (Incidentally, George Washington's dentures, which were heavy and fit badly, made it extremely difficult for him to smile. You can see them today in the Smithsonian Museum.) This means that you will not have to be afraid to go out in public and not be able to present a pleasing appearance. Unlike bridges, which typically last for only five to seven years, implants can endure for a decade or more -- provided, of course, that you take proper care of them.
The fact that implants are supported by the jawbone also keeps that part healthy. Dentures are not thus supported, and the jawbone can become weaker and less firm because it is not being used, just as muscles waste away from long periods of disuse. Implants are the only dental prosthetics that give this benefit. Another advantage of implants with regard to dental health is that preparing the mouth to receive them does not involve grinding healthy teeth, which may also shift out of place if they are attached to bridges. An implant simply fits over where the missing tooth used to be.
The presence of false teeth in the mouth can affect the tastes of many kinds of food, making it harder to enjoy them the way you did when you had your natural teeth. With implants, on the other hand, you can continue to experience in full the tastes of all of your favorite foods.
Then, too, dentures are meant to be taken out of the mouth and stored in a cup at night. Many people lose theirs as a result (right now my own mother cannot find her bite plate, and it is tedious for me to have to help look for it. Maybe the cats got hold of it!) Here is yet another of the many benefits of dental implants -- they are designed to be kept permanently in the mouth. Besides, putting your dentures in and taking them back out again can be no less tiresome.