Before dental implants, all dentures were like glasses or contact lenses. People wore them when they needed them, and put them on the nightstand at the end of the day.
But much as advances in eye surgery have done for people with bad vision, new technology in the field of dental prostheses offer an exciting new option for people with missing teeth. The dental implant makes it possible to keep your dentures in your mouth permanently, closely approximating the experience of having natural teeth in the wearer’s mouth.
The implant consists of a metal piece that is surgically placed in the patient’s jaw. Part of this piece remains outside the jawbone and gums. This protruding piece is what fastens to the dentures, holding them in place permanently or until a dentist removes them.
Receiving dental implants is a surgical procedure, so by definition it’s much more invasive than having a temporary set of dentures modeled to your mouth. But it has definite advantages over temporary dentures that are important to consider when deciding which kind you want.
One major advantage of these “permanent” dentures is that they don’t move. Temporary dentures are held in place by commercial adhesives that must be regularly reapplied to minimize the slippage of the prosthesis in the wearer’s mouth. And even the best dental adhesives don’t prevent all movement of dentures. Wearers still must contend with metal and plastic parts rubbing and scraping their gums, which can cause discomfort and make it difficult to speak or chew food. Dentures held in place by implants, on the other hand, do not move around in the mouth, alleviating or eliminating all those problems.
Another plus for dental implants is that they can be designed in such a way that they don’t cover the upper palate, allowing the wearer to enjoy the taste of food more richly. Temporary dentures that replace missing upper teeth must cover some part of the upper palate, which often interferes with the wearer’s gustatory experience. Not so with properly designed dental implants.
Finally, dental implants can be better for the jawbone. Like any bone, the jaw depends on pressure exerted upon it through regular use. Without such stress, it can weaken and shrink. The way temporary dentures are secured to the mouth, they do not provide enough pressure to keep the jawbone healthy. Dental implants, much like natural teeth, stimulate bone growth and prevent loss of bone mass.
Of course, dental implants are not for everyone. A candidate must be healthy enough for surgery, and must have sufficient mass in the jawbones to receive the implants and keep them in place.