If you’re missing one or more of your teeth and would prefer not to have a bridge or full or partial dentures, you might consider asking your dentist whether you’d be a good candidate for dental implants.
Dental implants provide a more natural tooth replacement than dentures because they’re artificial teeth that are attached directly to the jawbone. To benefit from dental implants, you must be in good health (aside from missing teeth) and have a fully developed and healthy jawbone - healthy gums and a healthy jawbone are needed to support the implants.
If you’re healthy and your dentist determines that you’re a good candidate for implants, he or she will schedule the procedure to take place either at the dentist’s office under local anesthesia or at a hospital under general anesthesia, depending on the patient’s particular dental health needs and the amount of surgery that is required.
But implants aren’t a good choice for everyone. Pregnant women and people with chronic illness or immunosuppression (due to the increased risk of infection during surgery), children (because their jawbones are still developing) and people who grind or clench their teeth (this habit can put too much pressure on implants) are not good candidates for dental implants.
Keep in mind that the surgery to place dental implants takes several hours, and more than one procedure may be needed. So anyone who is at increased risk for infection may not want to choose dental implants.
If you’re healthy and you undergo surgery for dental implants, be sure to follow your dentist’s instructions for oral hygiene-including twice-daily toothbrushing and daily flossing - following the procedure to keep your new teeth clean and healthy.