Six Things You May Not Know About Dental Implants

Dental implants are an increasingly popular cosmetic dentistry option. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, more than 500,000 dental implants were installed in American mouths in 2006, and that number continues to grow annually. However, as popular as these life-like synthetic teeth may be, there are likely things you aren't aware of about dental implants.

1. Implants are immune to cavities. While dental implants look like real teeth, they are impervious to decay that weakens your natural teeth. You'll never have to worry about getting a cavity filled in your dental implants. That doesn't mean, however, that you don't need to brush your teeth when you have implants. Food can still get caught between your teeth and lead to gum disease.

2. Getting dental implants is a lengthy process. In order to get dental implants, your existing teeth, if present, need to be pulled. Your mouth then needs to heal for several weeks from that procedure before you have oral surgery to insert the titanium anchors that hold the porcelain "teeth" in place. This requires another healing process, from six to eight weeks, before the final porcelain teeth can be attached to the anchors.

3. Dental implants use space-age technology. The titanium used in most dental implants is the same material that is used by NASA in the space shuttles and guided missiles.

4. You're never too young or too old to get implants. As long as your mouth is healthy, there is no age restriction on who can get implants. They are as well-suited for a teenager as for an octogenarian.

5. Not all implants are created alike. There are several different types of implants on the market today. Be sure to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each with your dentist before making a final decision.

6. Chronic health conditions and lifestyle choices can hamper your implant success rate. Health conditions like diabetes and heart disease can decrease the likelihood that your implant surgery will be successful as can smoking. All of these things interfere with good circulation, which is critical for long-lasting, complication-free implants. Other conditions, such as leukemia and anemia, which compromise a person's general health, may make a person a poor candidate for implants.

If you're considering getting dental implants, it's important to gather as much information as possible about these synthetic teeth so that you can make the best decision about how to improve your smile.