Dental Implants: What Are The Alternatives?

When facing a missing tooth, there are several alternatives for replacement, but the most advanced and often-recommended solution is a dental implant. As with every dental issue, the details of what that might mean for you is highly individual, with each patient being different.

At Monterey Peninsula Dental Group, we have several experienced implant dentists who can work with you on a treatment plan that is customized to your needs, dental history and the implant options that best suit your situation. Our cutting-edge imaging tools and our in-house ability to craft dental restorations will help shorten the timeline of your implant treatment and ensure that your replacement teeth fit your mouth and jaw flawlessly.

Dental implants function as the replacement root structure for a missing tooth, anchoring it in place in your jawbone. It often takes some time for an implant to bond with the bone and heal up to the point where a replacement tooth can be placed. But when it’s all done, you’ll have a strong tooth replacement that looks, feels and functions just like a natural tooth.

Types of Implants

The type of dental implant your dentist will recommend is based on your particular needs for tooth replacement. Because implants are anchored in and bond with your natural jawbone, its condition is an important consideration during the implant process.

The most common type of implant is an endosteal implant, which resembles a tiny screw and is usually titanium. These are placed directly in the jawbone and can support any type of dental restoration. Often, these are done with a single tooth, but it’s also possible to place several at once if you’re missing a few in a row, for example.

Another, less common type of implant is called subperiosteal dental implants. These are secured in the soft tissue of your gum and sit on or above the jawbone. They’re used in cases where the patient does not have enough healthy bone tissue to support an implant, but can’t undergo bone regeneration or augmentation to create new bone.

There are also other types of dental implants available, mostly suited to special circumstances. Typically, getting dental implants is a multi-step process spanning several months. But there is a type of implant called immediate load dental implants, which place both the implant and a replacement tooth at the same time. That’s best suited for patients with plenty of healthy jawbone and an implant secure enough to support pressure on the new replacement tooth right away.

Miniature dental implants are sometimes used in the creation of dental restorations like bridges and dentures. These are toothpick-sized implants, also called narrow diameter implants, and they are less invasive, but typically used just to stabilize other dental work.

Dental Implants Vs. Dentures and Bridges

Dental implants are permanent fixes, and should not need to be replaced in a patient’s lifetime, unlike many other types of dental restorations, like dentures or bridges. While the replacement tooth may wear out or become damaged at some point, the metal implant itself won’t be going anywhere, and will always provide a stable base to strengthen your jawbone for any future restoration, if needed.

In the case of fixed bridges, which attach a false tooth to its neighbors for support, we expect a lifetime of 5 to 15 years, the average being around 10 years. For dentures, a lifespan of 7 to 15 years is expected, and most patients, in addition, find dentures less stable and comfortable than dental implants.

Talk to your MPDG dentist about the dental restoration options that might be right for you. We’re always happy to hear from new or current patients about their concerns. You can contact us online anytime, or give us a call during office hours at (831) 373-3068.