Since dental implants were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the 1980s as a solution for missing teeth and an alternative to dentures and dental bridges, millions of Americans have enjoyed their benefits.

Yet even as the popularity of dental implants soars, many people continue to suffer from the adverse effects of missing teeth. Without treatment, missing teeth can erode your oral health, impact the physical structure of your jaw and mouth, and affect your self-esteem.

woman with beautiful dental implants smile

Dental Implants: Millions Served

More than 3 million Americans have received dental implants, according to a recent Consumer Affairs article, with that number increasing by about 500,000 annually.

Dental implants are often preferable to other options because they replicate the appearance and function of natural teeth. The titanium implants approved in the 1980s and the newer zirconia implants, which act as replacement roots and become fused within the jaw bone, provide better stability for dental crowns than dentures or bridges do for their prosthetic teeth.

As the Consumer Affairs article points out, dental implants also have a very high success rate, which some studies place upward of 98 percent. With proper care, dental implants can last a lifetime.

Millions More Leave Missing Teeth Untreated

Despite the growing popularity of dental implants, many who could benefit from them are not getting them. A December 2015 Texas A&M Today report about the next generation of dental implants notes that 95 percent of those who are candidates for dental implants do not receive them.

Data from the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons cited in a 2014 review of current trends in dental implants indicates that nearly 70 percent of adults between the ages of 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth, most due to gum disease or tooth decay. The same source states that by age 74, more than one-quarter of American adults have lost all of their permanent teeth.

Without treatment, missing teeth allow the remaining natural teeth to shift positions, creating more space between the teeth and along the gums for plaque to develop, which contributes to an increased risk for tooth decay, gum disease and the loss of additional teeth. Over time, missing teeth also cause a decrease in jaw bone density, and can contribute to diminished self-confidence.

Considering Dental Implants

Perceived cost is often the reason people who would benefit from dental implants don’t pursue them. Costs associated with dental implants can vary widely, depending on the number of implants needed, the type of implants used, and whether other dental work is necessary.

Most patients find the long-term advantages worth the short-term costs, and as we discussed in a blog post earlier this year, there are steps you can take to help keep dental implant costs low. The most important thing, for the sake of your smile and your well-being, is to have a conversation with a knowledgeable dentist about your options.

The dentists at Smile Columbia Dentistry have extensive experience in the successful placement of dental implants, and we also offer the exceptional Fountain of Youth™ Dentures. If you live in Columbia, SC, and would like to learn more about treatments for replacing missing teeth, please call us today at (803) 781-9090.