Let’s start with a fun fact: dental implants and spaceships have something in common. They’re both made from titanium. That’s right, the implant in your mouth will be as strong as the rockets that head to Mars and beyond. So, don’t be surprised if an implant company approaches Elon Musk to become their brand ambassador.Now, to more serious matters. Are dental implants a new trend? The answer is NO. Are they a popular trend? The answer is a resounding YES. While dental implants date back to the 1950s, it was when titanium implants entered the market in 1982 that they gained in popularity. Since then modifications have continued to be made with the aim of improving the quality and success rate of dental implants. As a result, dental implants are now one of the most popular tooth replacement options for missing teeth.
Here are some facts and trends:
- Dental implants have increasingly become the preferred treatment for people who have tooth loss as practitioner expertise and supporting technology around dental implants continue to advance. More than 3 million implants were placed in the United States in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In the US, more than 150 million people are missing at least one tooth, yet just over a million are treated each year (corresponding to 2.5 million implants). That means there is plenty of opportunities for dental implants to become an even stronger choice in dental restoration.
- The global dental implant market is expected to reach $13 billion by 2023. Explosive growth is anticipated in the coming decade because of a change in demographics, increased consumer awareness, technological advances in both diagnosis and treatment, and other restorative and surgical innovations.
- The aging population is one of the strongest reasons why dental implants are expected to increase in demand over the coming years. In fact, by 2030, people aged 65 and older will outnumber those aged 18 and under.
- New computer-generated scanning and digital technologies are enabling dentists to create more precise dental implant plans and designs for tooth restoration as well as duplicate implants that more closely match the original tooth. Cone Beam Computerized Tomograms (CBCT), for example, help dentists with several surgical considerations, such as the position and size of implants, location of important anatomical structures, and distance between adjacent teeth.
- While titanium is the industry-standard material used for dental implants, zirconia implants are gaining ground. The big difference is that zirconia implants are primarily ceramic instead of metal, and may have a better soft-tissue response and biocompatibility. They also tend to remain a whiter, tooth-like color over time.
- Computer-guided implant surgery is helping dentists more accurately place implants as well as identify any need for soft tissue augmentation. These 4-D virtual devices increase the accuracy of placement, making implants that fit snugly in place and reducing surgery time.
- The newest breakthrough in dental implants is antibacterial coating. When the implant is manufactured, it is coated with an antibacterial agent that prevents bacterial growth. Bacteria is always present in the mouth but must be kept in control to avoid deterioration and decay. In addition to preventing bacteria growth, these coated implants also help the bone fuse with the implant, making it more secure and stable.
Whether you need to replace one tooth, multiple teeth, or a full arch, dental implants are the restoration method that gives you a permanent, long-term replacement option with teeth that are as strong and as aesthetically pleasing as natural teeth.
And while you may first think dental implants are expensive, there are definite advantages to dental implants that make them a better investment over the long run. Why? Dental implants restore balance to your full mouth by integrating into the bone, which enables bone to continue growing and gives your teeth stability. When you are missing a tooth or have a fixed bridge or dentures, spaces below the gum line shrink and shift, and your bite doesn’t stay the same. You will begin to use your other teeth more to make up for the missing tooth or teeth. This frequently leads to more extensive treatments – and more expensive treatments – down the road.
Here's a Helpful Tip
When looking at dental insurance, be sure to ask about a Missing Tooth Clause. In general, if you are missing a tooth when you purchase a policy with such a clause, they will not pay anything to replace that tooth. But if you include the clause before you lose a tooth, you will have some coverage for its replacement.
So join the trend and replace lost teeth with dental implants that will serve you well for the remainder of your lifetime.
Dr. Thakkar was born and raised in Ahmedabad, India. She earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 2011 in India and moved to the US after five years of private practice. Dr. Thakkar has committed to furthering her expertise in implant and restorative dentistry by completing various CE courses including AAID MaxiCourse-NY in 2019 and Research Fellowship in 2020. She is actively working to achieve credentialing with the AAID and is currently pursuing her two-year AEGD (Advanced Education in General Dentistry) residency at the world-renowned Eastman Institute of Oral Health, University of Rochester, NY. Questions or comments can be emailed to Radhika_Thakkar@URMC.Rochester.edu or Instagram page @dr.radhika.thakkar.