Dental implants are a more permanent option than bridge work or dentures for the problem of missing teeth. It is also a better option than either bridge work or dentures because dental implants don't wear the patient's jaw bone down from use like dentures can.
If you have had dentures or bridgework in the past you probably found them uncomfortable or even painful to wear and that is because even well fitting devices will wear down the shape of your jaw bone over time and the result is an appliance that doesn't fit properly any more.
What this means to you is you have to constantly have your dentures or bridgework refitted to wear properly and that can get expensive over time. Plus many patients simply don't like the temporary nature of these devices. It can be embarrassing if they come out if you eat the wrong food and there is no way to conceal the fact that you wear them since they have to come out at night to be cleaned.
Dental implants look like a natural tooth on the surface and a titanium screw on the bottom, which is the part that is surgically screwed into your jaw bone so they are as permanent as your natural teeth and have proven to last just as long.
If you are considering the option of surgical implants, your dentist will need to do an exam including taking x rays or having a CT or MRI done to ensure you have enough jaw bone density for the titanium screws to adhere to. If you do have enough quality and density to your jaw bone, the oral surgeon can surgically screw the implants in place where they are needed and eliminate your need for dentures or bridgework forever.
The only patients who would not be considered a good candidate for implants other than those who lack the jaw bone density are smokers because smoking slows or inhibits the healing process of your mouth. For people who stop smoking but take it up again after their surgery, the results are usually poor. Implant healing can take years for bone to grow and stabilize in place and smoking will interfere with this and potentially cause implant failure.
As you heal and recover from the surgery, your jaw bone will adhere and grow into the implants so they become as much a part of your jaw as your natural tooth roots are.
The care for dental implants is easy. All you need to do to take care of implants is brush and floss just as you would your natural teeth, but implants have the advantage that they won't break or decay like natural teeth so they will likely last as long as you do.