Losing teeth as an adult. It feels like a nightmare, but can happen to any one of us. Whether due to genetics, lack of dental insurance or illness, sometimes tooth decay can get the best of us. If your dentist has told you that you have teeth that need to be pulled or your tooth has just fallen out, it can be scary to think about what the future will bring not only for the aesthetics of your smile, but your overall oral health. Not only do you not want to lose your looks and beautiful smile, you don’t want the health of the rest of your teeth to be affected as well.

Of course, not doing anything to replace your missing teeth is not an option. Not only will a few missing teeth lead to more tooth decay and the eventual loss of more teeth, it can also start to affect your facial structure and your ability to chew and speak. The two most common options for replacing missing teeth are dental implants and dentures. Make sure you talk to your dentist and explore all your options before deciding between the two of them,

Here are the nine most frequently asked questions about dental implants:

What are the benefits of dental implants?

Dental implants look and feel more natural than dentures and they do not slip or click when you are talking or eating. They also help maintain your jawbone which supports your facial structure. It also stimulates healthy bone formation. In addition, you don’t have to worry about foot getting stuck between your gums and replacement teeth with implants. And since they are more permanent, you don’t have to take them out of your mouth every night to clean and soak them. With implants, you never experience any of the hassles or worries of dentures and after they are healed and in place you won’t even notice a difference between them and your natural teeth.

What exactly are dental implants?

A dental implant is a titanium post the substitutes for the tooth root. A connector also called an abutment is placed on top of the implant and then a crownis put on top.

What are the stages to getting a dental implant?

The post gets inserted into your jawbone first. Once it has a chance to heal and fuse with your natural jawbone then the connector and replacement tooth can be added. It cannot be done in one fell swoop so you need to be patient while waiting for everything to heal.

Can any dentist do implants?

Because of the sophisticated nature of this procedure, you should only trust a credentialed dental implant expert to do the work for you. They have the right education and skills to ensure that there are no complications or worse, implant failure.

How do I find a dental implant expert near me?

Check out the American Academy of Implant Dentistry’s website for a directory of all credentialed dental implant experts. Also ask friends and family who’ve had the procedure done who they trust. It is recommended that they have 300 or more hours of postdoctoral or continuing education related specifically to implants. The consultation process can take a while so be patient. You don’t want to rush into anything so make sure you do your homework first. The dental expert’s chairside manner and their willingness to work with you on affording the implants should also be factored in as well.

How do I know if dental implants are right for me?

Dental implants are perfect for anyone who doesn’t want a few missing teeth to slow them down and affect their social life. With dental implants, your smile will look as natural and as beautiful as before and there is no fear of them slipping or becoming noticeable when you are eating or talking or kissing. Don’t let dental issues keep you from living your life. No one will even know you had any work done.

While dental implants are not cheap, they do last you a long time and will be worth the time and money you invest in fixing your smile.

How much do dental implants cost?

The cost of dental implants tends to vary so it is important that you get a few estimates before making any final decisions. Make sure the implant expert has examined your mouth and missing teeth so he or she can give you a honest picture of what needs to be done and how much it will cost. Because dental implants are custom made specifically for your mouth, it is important that you go in for an in-person consultation.

While there might be a little sticker shock, keep in mind that the quality of life dental implants offer you is priceless. Because they last you a long time, they are really cost effective in the long run. Think about how much more confident you will feel with a healthier, more beautiful smile. Not having to worry about your fake teeth slipping like you do with dentures.

Why do some people choose dentures over implants?

With all the great benefits of dental implants, you might be asking yourself, why would anyone choose dentures over implants? Here are the top reasons people choose dentures:

  • They have a cheaper upfront cost than implants so for people that cost is a deal-breaker, dentures will be more affordable.
  • Getting dentures is not as a long process as getting implants so for people who need replacement teeth quick, dentures might be a more preferable option.

On the downside of dentures, they are not very natural-looking and can be noticeable when you speak and eat. Also, because they are not permanent, you will still experience bone loss and changes in your appearance. Plus, dentures need to be replaced every few years.

Are there any other options for teeth replacement?

There are not a lot of options for teeth replacement even with all the advancements of technology. Besides implants and dentures, there are partial dentures and bridges., but only implants prevent further bone loss and changes to your facial structure.

Whatever your final decision, make sure you do the best thing for your health. Remember you only get one set of teeth.