Are you missing any teeth? It’s nothing to be ashamed of: Nearly 14 percent of adults 65 or older have lost most of their teeth.
1. Less expensive implants
For patients who want to replace their dentures with something fixed or nonremovable, the All-on-4 implant is a popular choice. This gives people who are missing all their teeth on at least one jaw the opportunity to get fitted with dental implants. With the All-on-4, four implants are drilled into the arch of the mouth and anchored to the bone. Then a full fixed denture or bridge is screwed into the heads of the implants. Anchoring the dentures in place allows you to eat, drink, smile, laugh and shout without the fear of your teeth slipping out, as some traditional dentures do. “All-on-4 implants are less invasive and cheaper than traditional implants and are a step up from having a removable denture in your mouth,” says dentist Rob Raimondi, cofounder of One Manhattan Dental.
2. Ceramic implants
For years, titanium implants have been the gold standard of dental implants. “But in the last 12 years, we have started using metal-free alternatives,” says Joe Willardsen, a Las Vegas–based cosmetic dentist with True Dentistry. These ceramic materials can be a particularly good option for patients with titanium or metal hypersensitivity. But their advantages are broader than that, says Willardsen; they can be healthier options for your gums and also more aesthetically pleasing. “You don’t get any gray metal showing through the gum tissue,” he explains. “That can happen with a traditional implant.”
3. New options for damaged jaws
In the past, a lack of bone could keep patients from being able to get dental implants. But new technology has overcome that issue. “Nowadays, we’re taking donor bone, cadaver bone or even bovine bone, and grafting that into place using almost like a titanium cage to keep it in place and let it fuse with your existing bone to gain more height and more substance,” Willardsen says. This allows for enough bone to place an implant.
4. Faster healing after dental surgery
After dental surgery, like having implants installed, your mouth has a lot of healing to do. Some surgeons are now injecting a patient’s platelet-rich plasma (PRP) into the site they are working on to assist with healing. So a surgeon will numb you, take some blood, spin it in a centrifuge in the lab to extract PRP cells, then inject that into your mouth. “The theory is that mixing the bone graft or injecting this into the area will help it heal faster,” Raimondi says. Research is still conflicted on whether this benefits the healing process, but “some patients have great results,” he adds.