Dental implants are one of the best ways to replace a missing tooth or to anchor dentures. Unlike other options, which simply bridge the gap between two teeth, a dental implant will mimic the function of a natural tooth. Thus, to provide a solid replacement tooth as well as to recreate the health benefits of a natural tooth, you should ask your dentist for an implant.
What Does an Implant Look Like?
There are two main components to a dental implant: a post and a crown. The post is made from titanium for two reasons. For one, titanium will not react with your body as other metals will, so you don't have to worry about it corroding and releasing dangerous metal salts into your body. For another, titanium makes an extremely solid anchor for your prosthetic tooth. To place the post, a dentist must make an incision in your gums, peel back the flesh from the bone, then drill a hole to place the post in. Once in place, the bone must heal around the post for six months before your dentist can attach a porcelain crown to the post with dental cement to complete the tooth.
Titanium and porcelain will not rot like the enamel on your natural teeth can. Furthermore, titanium will not break like enamel will, so you can't knock out a dental implant unless you break the bone that holds it in place. In any case, you should be able to eat corn on the cob, apples, taffy, and other foods that would damage a dental bridge. You should, however, avoid chewing on jawbreakers, ice, and other hard foods which could chip your porcelain crown. You should also not use your teeth as tools to open containers, as this can create twisting pressure, which can break porcelain.
The pressure created by chewing on foods will travel down the root of your natural teeth and stimulate your bone, which responds by growing denser to anchor your tooth. When you lose a tooth, your bone loses this stimulus, and it can start to lose density. Pressure can travel down a titanium root just as easily as it does down your natural roots, so your bone will stay healthier with an implant than it would otherwise.
Based on the above-described advantages of a dental implant, you should ask your dentist to install a crown whenever you lose a tooth. Obviously, it is better to hold onto your natural teeth for as long as you can, but if you do lose a tooth, a dental implant should be your first choice for replacement.