If you have lost one or more teeth, you realize that you have several options for replacing that lost tooth: removable dentures, dental bridges, and dental implants. You might have heard that dental implants are the best, but what makes them the best? Simply put, it’s because they are the most like your natural teeth of any tooth replacement. This lets them offer benefits that other tooth replacements simply can’t match.

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The Most Tooth-Like Replacement

Of all the tooth replacement options, dental implants are the most like your natural teeth. The implant is an artificial tooth root, which can bond with your jawbone, similar to the way natural teeth do. This lets them offer benefits that come from this direct bond.

Dental Implants Support Themselves

Other replacement teeth need to be supported by your natural teeth. A removable denture sits on your gums, but has hooks and clasps that go around neighboring teeth for security and support. A dental bridge is supported by dental crowns over neighboring teeth, which provide stability.

A benefit of implant dentistry is that it places the titanium root directly in the jawbone, which then bonds with the bone in a process called osseointegration. Once integrated with the bone, the implant is fully fixed, providing good function over the long term.

Dental Implants Support Bone and Gums

One benefit of the implant having a tooth root is that it provides support for the jawbone and gingiva (gum tissue). Where a dental bridge might allow bone loss under it because there’s no tooth root, and removable dentures might actually stimulate bone loss through pressure on the top of the bone, dental implants stimulate bone growth. If you have dental implants, you will maintain jawbone. The jawbone will support your gums, so you’ll maintain your gum tissue, too.

Dental Implants Can Last a Lifetime

One of the signature benefits of dental implants is their longevity, matched by few cosmetic dentistry procedures. Clinical studies that are 10, 20, even 30 years long show survival rates for implants over 90%. There is no indication that these studies have reached the effective maximum lifetime for dental implants. In fact, there is no reason to believe that implants can’t last a lifetime.

There are caveats, however. First, implants have a pronounced “wearing in” period when they have to integrate with the jawbone. Failure to integrate with the bone is one of the leading causes of implant failure, accounting for approximately half of all implant failures.

Second, implants are subject to some of the same perils that face your natural teeth. Implants can get gum disease (it’s called peri-implantitis, rather than periodontitis, but it’s essentially the same condition). Good oral hygiene can help you maintain good oral health and this will protect your implants so they can last as long as possible.