The Global Burden of Disease Study shows that the shocking 158 million people or 2.3% of the world’s population suffer complete toothlessness. In the USA alone, it is estimated that 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, and 40 million have no teeth in their mouth.
With these disturbing facts in mind, it is no wonder that more and more people consider dental implants the most suitable long-term solution in case of missing teeth.
Dental implants, however, are sometimes perceived as a luxury, available only to the privileged few. But are they? Various myths and facts about implants are being spread all over the Internet. Let’s take a look at the most popular notions on the topic, such as:
- Are dental implants a better solution than bridges?
- Are they only for old people?
- Is the post-treatment care too demanding?
- Is dental implant treatment risky?
#1: Tooth loss can lead to digestive disorders: FACT
65% of the respondents in a recent DentaVox survey claim the impact of tooth loss on digestive disorders is real.
In fact, the most significant relationship between oral diseases and digestive disorders is from tooth loss. Although toothless people who don’t wear even removable dentures are the most vulnerable group, those with dentures are also predisposed to problems. Directly or indirectly, the issues most often come from the inability to chew properly. Research shows that people with missing teeth tend to choose softer or even liquid foods and reduce the consumption of harder, fiber-rich vegetables, and fruits. This could then lead to nutritional deficiencies and provoke a number of gastrointestinal disturbances.
#2: Dental implants replace the tooth roots: FACT
#3: Dental implants replace the tooth crown: MYTH
We will look at these two statements together. A common misconception is that a dental implant replaces both the tooth root (the part which is below the gums) and the tooth crown (the visible part of the tooth). Although 62% of the survey participants correctly define a dental implant as a replacement of the tooth root, 81% of them claim it substitutes the natural tooth crown (as well).
Actually, dental implants are there to replace the tooth root. Bridges, crowns or prostheses are fixed onto the implants to ensure dental restorations with perfect aesthetics and functionality, perfectly reproducing the natural ones. Here is a one-to-one comparison of a natural tooth vs. implant-supported crown:
#4: Dental implants are a better long-term solution than bridges: FACT
A bridge on its own or an implant-supported crown – what’s the better solution to replace one missing tooth in the long run? According to three-fourths of respondents, this is undoubtedly an implant.
Although not every person is suitable for implants, mainly due to certain diseases, resorbed jaw bone and/ or risky habits, the majority of dental specialists confirm the advantages of dental implants. Placing a dental bridge involves harming the two adjacent teeth and leads to the jaw bone below the missing tooth shrinking over time. Single-implant treatment helps preserve the bone and is completely independent of the surrounding teeth. Bridges should usually be replaced after 10-20 years; implants, if properly placed, can last forever.
#5: Zirconia implants are better than titanium: SO-SO
The largest share of survey participants is undecided on this topic. And rightly so.
Studies have shown that titanium and zirconia implants have a very similar bone-to-implant contact, which determines the stability of the implant in the patient’s mouth. Although zirconia is a very strong material in compressive forces, it doesn’t have much flexure and can fracture easier. On the other hand, they are perceived as a better aesthetic solution, especially for front teeth. Before choosing which type of implants is more suitable for you, consult with specialists.
#6: Everyone will notice a dental implant: MYTH
As stated above, dental implants are “hidden” below the gum. With a proper fixed dental restoration on top, chances are good that nobody will ever notice your implant unless you point it out. And that’s exactly what 55% of respondents claim as well.
#7: All dental implant treatments are different: FACT
64% of survey participants recognize the different treatment recommendations that could arise based on health status, jaw condition, personal preferences, dentist capabilities, etc..
Placing dental implants requires a full general health overview, detailed oral health diagnostics, and thorough planning before proceeding. Therefore, it’s no surprise that dental implant treatments differ from patient to patient. Moreover, not all dentists are the same, so make sure to choose wisely.
#8: Dental implants are for old people: MYTH
The majority of respondents (65%) disagree with this statement.
Tooth loss, however, can occur at any age. And if it occurs, then implants are likely the optimal, long-term solution. Forget about stereotypes and consult with a dentist in case of hesitance.
#9: Dental implants take forever to heal: MYTH
Another misconception that seems to have confused or have caught respondents unprepared, as the largest share of them are undecided on the topic.
Dental implants do require a healing process, as they must bond with the surrounding jaw and gum, but it is certainly not too long. In the standard case, we are talking about 3-6 months time, throughout which patients can easily live their normal lives with temporary dentures. The best part, though: Nowadays, you can also get a fixed implant-supported restoration within just 24 hours!
#10: If you have implants, you still need to brush your teeth: FACT
94% of people realize that having dental implants doesn’t set you free from the usual oral care routine. It involves the same plus a few additional steps to ensure the desired durability. Also, motivation is a bit higher… You wouldn’t like a second implant treatment because of improper care, would you?
#11: Caring for dental implants is very difficult: MYTH
Although a larger part of survey participants (39%) disagree with this statement, one-fifth still believes caring for implants is too much of a hurdle.
Well, having beautiful and perfectly functional teeth does require care. But it will not take up an unreasonable time. Here are some tips on how to take care of your dental implants:
#12: If you have implants, you don’t need dental check-ups anymore: MYTH
That would be a very convenient outcome, wouldn’t it? You get implant treatment once, you never visit a dentist again. Well, it’s not how reality works, although 8% of respondents think so.
Visiting your regular dentist or implant specialist is crucial to ensure long-lasting results. During control check-ups, they can estimate if your oral hygiene needs improvement, give you further recommendations or detect issues in an early stage.
#13: Not everyone is suitable for dental implants: SO-SO
More people (42%) confirm that implant treatments might not be the best fit for everyone.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. The most important factor for dental implants is strong bone tissue to insert the implant into. If you have not replaced a missing tooth for long, or you have been wearing bridges/ removable dentures, it is very likely that the bone beneath would not be sufficient. This is something an implant specialist can easily define after proper diagnostics and computer tomography. Even in such cases, though, bone grafting can come to your aid.
#14: Dental implants aren’t worth the price: MYTH
Over half of the survey participants (54%) think that dental implants are totally worth the costs.
In fact, dental implant costs can be looked at as a lifelong investment in your health and well-being. If you choose a good specialist, the success of your implant surgery is almost certain. And the best part: With proper care, this solution has all the chances to be permanent!
#15: Bone grafting may be needed before dental implant surgery: FACT
As briefly mentioned above, if your jaw bone is not sufficient, a bone grafting procedure may be needed to ensure successful implantation. The results show that 41% of respondents are aware of this fact.
There are several bone graft materials that can be used to rebuild a jawbone – from natural options (such as bone material from your own body) to synthetic ones that can provide support structures for new bone growth. Talk to your doctor about options that will work best for you.
#16: Dental implant treatment is risky: MYTH
Although dental implants have been used for almost half a century now, one-fifth of survey participants still think this treatment is risky.
The average success rate of implant treatments in healthy patients ranges between 90 and 95%. However, there are clinics that are narrowly specialized in dental implants and have therefore managed to excel in the treatment results. For example, SWISS Dentaprime dental clinic reports a 98.5% success rate in its 14 years of operation. So before choosing a specialist, make sure you are aware of their experience and previous performance. Precise diagnostics is also crucial for the procedure’s success. A simple panoramic X-ray cannot show in such details small structures such as nerves the way that a modern computer tomography can do it.
#17: Dental implants can be placed within 24 hours: FACT
New implant systems allow the complete dental implant procedure to be performed within just 24 hours. And 40% of the respondents seem to be aware of this innovation.
Traditional implant treatments require between three and six months of healing before the final replacement teeth can be fixed on the implants. Same-day dental implant treatments, however, allow you to walk out of the clinic with a new set of teeth within a day.
#18: Dental implants are uncomfortable: MYTH
This misconception is believed by 11% of survey participants.
In actuality, many patients share that the procedure was simpler and less painful than they had imagined. Most procedures only require the use of local anesthesia to prevent you from feeling pain, but nitrous oxide or total intravenous anesthesia may also be used to further reduce discomfort and anxiety. Once the dental implants are in place, they should look and feel just like real teeth.
#19: Not every dentist can place dental implants: SO-SO
Although legally possible for any dental specialist with a valid license to place implants, it is claimed that implant dentistry must be looked at as a completely separate field that requires specific training. It is a fact that a growing number of general dentists nowadays refer their patients to an implant specialist in case they need/ want such a treatment. Over 60% of respondents claim that not every dentist can perform the procedure.
Surgical implantation procedures are very safe if performed by experts with experience. Choose wisely to avoid complications.
#20: People with dental implants should use special oral hygiene products: FACT
Half of the survey participants realize the need of caring for implants with special oral hygiene products.
On top of brushing, flossing, and mouth washing, dental implant patients must also clean thoroughly the space between the implant and the tooth crown. This happens with the help of interdental brushes and/ or oral irrigator. For people with fixed dentures/ bridges, replacing more or all teeth in a jaw, a rubber-tip stimulator and a sulcus toothbrush are also needed to ensure long-lasting results.
Which of those myths and facts were you aware of?
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Stats source: DentaVox, 20 Questions: Dental Implants
Base: 406 respondents (global sample)