Dr. Aarthi Raghavan, DMD

Dental Implants

What are dental implants?

Tooth decay, periodontal disease, and injury often result in missing teeth, affecting millions of Americans every year. In the past, uncomfortable and impractical bridges and dentures were the only solutions. These days, however, dental implants are available and have been a game-changer, both physically and aesthetically.

Dental implants are a surgical way to replace missing teeth. It involves inserting a small biologically compatible post (usually made from titanium) into the jawbone, in effect replacing the root of the missing tooth. Affixed to this is a custom “tooth portion” called an abutment. This acts as a support for the final restoration. A replacement tooth, known as a crown, is attached to the abutment.

Why is it important to replace missing teeth with dental implants?

Although there is an aesthetic fact to consider — missing teeth have much bigger impact. Loss of function due to a missing tooth leads to loss of bone, thereby impacting the adjacent teeth and taking away their supporting bone, this is a natural phenomenon across all body parts knows as Disuse Atrophy. A good analogy is, “Why do astronauts lose muscles in space? or “Why does our hand become super skinny when we have a fracture and are stuck in a cast for a few weeks?” The answer is, anything in the human body that does not receive loading forces like it should, shrinks. The bone in the jaws is no exception to this.

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Dental implants can help with:

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Eating issues

Teeth are essential to chewing food. Chewed food is easier to digest and helps reduce heartburn and possible esophagus blockage. So, loss of teeth leads to reduced nutritional quality making people eat a softer more processed diet, leading to spikes in blood sugar levels and consequent health issues like diabetes and high cholesterol.

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Poor breathing

Believe it or not, teeth are essential to maintaining facial bone architecture. Loss of teeth means loss of facial architecture and poor breathing quality leading to increased upper respiratory tract infections and consequent health issues from poor sleep quality including heart disease. YES! Everything in the body is connected!

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Oral hygiene

Teeth are the gatekeepers of the mouth. Without them, the tongue and throat are unprotected from food particles and bacteria that shouldn’t be there.

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Speech Issues

Probably the first noticeable difference when people get new teeth is the difference in their speech. Lisping and the unwanted release of saliva come to a stop.

What makes dental implants better than bridges and dentures?

Before we get into the pros and cons of dental implants, bridges, and dentures, let’s make sure we know what they are. We have discussed dental implants. What is a bridge or denture?


A bridge is a false tooth. Unlike an implant that is surgically attached, a bridge and is held in place by the teeth surrounding your missing tooth. They are made from porcelain and plastic to resemble your other teeth


You may have seen movies where older people take out “their teeth” before they eat or go to bed, placing them in a glass of water. What they are taking out are their dentures. They are made of plastic and metal and fill the gaps between one or several missing teeth. Dentures resemble your natural teeth but “clip” into place. These are cheaper than implants and bridges and might be recommended when the teeth around your dental space might not be strong enough to support a bridge. Generally, though they are not recommended by dentists anymore. However, as you’ll see, certain dental implants can be used in conjunction with both bridges and dentures.

Dental Implants vs Dental Bridges & Dentures

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Long lasting

With regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, a dental implant can last a lifetime.

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Closest option to a natural tooth

Because a dental implant replaces both the root and a tooth, it prevents any bone loss and does all the same functions that a natural tooth can perform to maintain oral health.

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Doesn't rely on surrounding teeth

As a dental implant is a free-standing piece of dental architecture with its own support system, there is no reliance on surrounding teeth as with a dental bridge.

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High success rate

The success rate of implants over 10 years is around 90-95% according to reputable sources.

How do I know if I’m a good candidate for Dental Implants?

Do you have missing teeth?
Here is what your dentist will evaluate to see if you are a candidate:

Is there enough bone to secure the implant?
Are the tissues in your mouth healthy?
Are they free of oral diseases including gum disease and decay?
Do you have any pre-existing health concerns that could affect your healing?
Do you have any speech impediments that could be improved by a dental implant?

How do Dental Implants work?

Dental implants rely on modern technology to make the perfect tooth for your mouth that will ultimately both look and feel as if it belongs alongside your other teeth. Having an implant relies on the following steps:
1. Assessment 
Your dentist evaluates your mouth to see if you are a suitable candidate for a dental implant. A decision will be made based on many of the questions listed above. If you do not have enough healthy bone at the implant site your dentist may first suggest getting a bone graft. If recommended this will take time to heal before the implant procedure can begin
2. Dental implant and a temporary crown
The procedure to insert the implant into the jawbone takes about an hour. You may or may not also be fitted with a temporary crown at this time. Over-the-counter pain killers should be adequate to relieve any post-surgical discomfort which will last for a few days.
3. Healing
The healing process after the implants usually takes several months. Certainly, a six-month plus wait time is not unusual. Once the healing process has ended your dentist can schedule your final appointment for the crown portion. At this time, the implant is ready to uptake all the loading forces caused by chewing, grinding and even speaking.
4. Abutment and Crown
During your last appointment, your temporary crown or healing cap will be removed and replaced with an abutment that will be attached to the implant. A permanent crown will be attached to this, marking the end of the procedure. 

Different Types of Dental Implants

A single tooth dental implant
This requires one post and one crown and is used more often when an implant replaces a single missing tooth.
An implant-supported bridge
Used when multiple missing teeth are next to one another.
An implant retained denture
Often used when you are missing the majority of your teeth in an arch (upper or lower).

Dental Implants help your overall wellness

If you want the next best thing to having real teeth again, dental implants are the way to go. They are sturdy, durable, and functionally superior. They will not become dislodged when eating sticky or hard food and last a long time. Although more costly than the alternatives, in the long term they are a more economical choice.

Are you ready to take the first step
towards a great smile?

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