Reluctant to smile? You could be paying a higher price than you realize

(BPT) - For millions of individuals who are missing teeth, smiling is no easy task. The decision to get dental implants can prove to be life-changing. Several years ago, Dr. Natalie Wong, president of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), treated a shy 18-year-old man whose front teeth were knocked out in a bullying incident — and she still feels grateful for the opportunity.

When the young man first came to her office, he wouldn’t even look up or speak to her. Working slowly over many months, she earned his trust and replaced his missing teeth with dental implants. “The expression on his face when he smiled, looking at his final teeth, it was amazing,” says Wong, who practices in Toronto and is also the founder and director of the Toronto Implant Institute. “We change people’s physical state all the time. But when you can change someone’s mental state, that’s something impactful.”

5 reasons dental implants will make you smile

If you’ve been hesitant or unwilling to smile as often as you would like because you’re missing teeth — either from birth, as a result of injury, infection or decay — dental implants could be just what you need to start working those smile muscles a lot more. Here are five reasons dental implants will bring a smile to your face and renewed joy to your life:

  1. You’ll look and feel great. Dental implants feel, look, fit and function like healthy, natural teeth. Whenever you smile, you’ll know you look your best. They’re so comfortable, you don’t have to think about them or care for them any differently than you do your natural teeth. You just brush and floss them — no need to remove them for cleaning.
  2. They’re built to last. When properly cared for, dental implants can last decades. Many other tooth replacement options, including certain types of bridges and dentures, may need to be replaced as often as every five to 10 years, requiring a more significant investment of time and money.
  3. You can live life with confidence. Dental implants don’t slip or click when you talk, eat, laugh or kiss. You can enjoy all of your everyday activities without worrying about your teeth. You’ll also find your speech is more natural. Simply put, you just won’t have any excuses not to smile.
  4. They protect facial bone and healthy teeth. Leaving empty spaces in your mouth after losing one or more teeth can lead to jawbone deterioration and other health issues. When dental implants are placed in your jawbone, they bond with your natural bone. They’re the only tooth replacement option that stimulates bone growth and prevents bone loss, as well as keeps your facial structure intact. Another advantage is that they don’t require grinding down adjacent teeth as is required to anchor bridges or attach partial dentures.
  5. They’re more affordable than you might imagine. At first glance, dentures or removable bridges might seem like a better deal than dental implants, given their lower upfront costs. But the full financial and emotional cost of dentures or bridges can run much higher than dental implants when you factor in ongoing maintenance costs, the inconvenience and time-consuming hassle of removing dentures for cleaning, and the need for frequent replacement. Add in health costs if your jawbone starts to deteriorate, and the social costs of simply not being confident about chewing, laughing, talking or living your life, and compare the costs again.

Dental implant surgery is one of the safest, most predictable procedures in the dental field. But dental implants are complex, sophisticated devices that require deep knowledge and specialized expertise to fit and place properly, so it’s important to choose a dental implant dentist with experience and knowledge you can trust. Be sure to ask about his or her training, specializations and credentials. You can also find plenty of additional helpful information on the AAID’s consumer website at www.aaid-implant.org, including a Find an Implant Dentist tool to locate an AAID-credentialed dentist near you.

You deserve many reasons to smile. Don’t let missing teeth prevent you from getting all the physical and emotional benefits that come with exercising those smile muscles frequently and confidently.

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