It’s by no means certain that we will lose all our teeth with age—that all depends on the care you take of them during your lifetime. But though the figure is falling, a 2018 survey showed that four percent of the UK population have no remaining teeth.
But dental technology has made great strides in the last 20 years, with new materials and techniques offering solutions for a wide range of problem teeth. One of the most exciting developments, the dental implant, can now be applied to most types of failing or missing teeth.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
In dental implant work, a cylindrical screw fixture (usually made of titanium), essentially an artificial root, is surgically implanted into the jawbone, and fused to it using a chemical called hydroxyapatite. An abutment is screwed into the fixture, then a prosthetic tooth (essentially an old-fashioned crown) fixed onto the abutment.
A properly fitted implant can last decades, and the technique is applicable to many different situations involving missing, broken or worn-down teeth–for instance a single missing tooth, a bridge to fill a gap between two teeth, a stabilising procedure for an ill-fitting denture, or even complete replacement dentition, upper or lower.
Dental implants can restore confidence both in your looks, and in eating–certainly they are a much more reliable option than the conventional denture, and have the advantage of helping to preserve facial structure by preventing the bone deterioration that can occur when a tooth is missing.
Dental implant treatment can involve multiple procedures taking up to three months for the lower jaw or six months for the upper jaw, depending on the type of treatment being considered and the condition of the teeth and jaw. If the bone present is deficient, a bone graft may be required. Conversely, some types of implant can be done in a day.
Though the cost of dental implants can be considerable, certainly compared to a denture, with proper maintenance a dental implant can last a lifetime, so it could be the best investment your mouth will ever make.