Most people know that dental implants are permanent replacement teeth, but beyond that, this extremely common procedure can seem like a mystery to the average person. Considering that 178 million people in the United States are missing at least one tooth, dental implants could help a lot of people restore their smile — if only they knew about their options.

How Do Dental Implants Work

Dental implants have been a tried-and-true procedure for decades. They have achieved their reputation as a reliable solution to tooth loss by mimicking real teeth as closely as possible. Where your real tooth is connected to your jaw by the root, a dental implant uses a titanium screw to create that same connection.

Titanium has long been the go-to metal for biomedical uses, since it is highly biocompatible and is capable of osseointegration — a process where the bone literally grows onto the titanium, anchoring it. By using a titanium screw as the root of a dental implant, your dentist is enabling that root to integrate into your jaw the same way a real root does, providing stability equivalent to your natural teeth.

On top of the screw, dental implants feature a realistic-looking crown. Tooth fabrication has come a long way, and nowadays your dental implant can be custom colored and shaped to match your other teeth. Your implant will be indistinguishable from the rest of your smile.

What Are the Risks?

Just like any other involved dental procedure, there are risks associated with dental implants. However, those risks are incredibly uncommon. For example, if your body rejects the dental implant, it may need to be removed. In general, the dental implant success rate is higher than 95%. Some people, such as people who smoke or chew tobacco, may be at higher risk of dental implant rejection, but if you communicate well and work together with your dentist to reduce your risks, implant surgery can still be successful even for patients who aren’t ideal candidates.

The most common cause of dental implant rejection is peri-implantitis, which is essentially the implant-related version of periodontitis — while periodontitis is an infection of the gum tissue surrounding a tooth, peri-implantitis is the infection of the tissue surrounding a dental implant. However, peri-implantitis is fairly easy to prevent by maintaining good oral hygiene habits. And even if it is contracted, it is easy to treat and usually does not result in loss of the implant.

What Is Life with Implants Like?

Dental implants behave, for all intents and purposes, just like real teeth. You should not have to change your diet or your lifestyle to accommodate them. Caring for your implants is just like caring for your real teeth: Brush twice daily, floss every day, and see the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.

If cared for properly, implants can literally last a lifetime. Most patients have retained their implants twenty years after receiving them, and some even keep them for as long as 50 years.

Are you looking to replace one or more missing teeth with dental implants? Implant dentist Dr. Karthilde Appolon helps patients in midtown Manhattan to make their smile whole again. Please call 212-557-8668 today for an appointment at Appolon Dental Group in Columbus Circle.