Implants are a safe and attractive option for restoring your smile after tooth loss.
If you’re self-conscious about missing teeth or you’re tired of wearing dentures, dental implants are an excellent alternative. Many patients choose implants to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or to support a full set of dentures. Implants are cylinders that are surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw where they function as a sturdy anchor for replacement teeth. They are made of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body.
• Address cosmetic concerns, such as a noticeable gap between your teeth when you smile or speak.
• Correct speech issues caused by missing teeth.
• Improve chewing problems caused by a missing molar.
• Alleviate jaw discomfort. When a tooth is removed, the biting force on the remaining teeth begins to change, in order to compensate for the lost tooth, and there’s a risk of extra pressure and discomfort on the jaw joints.
• Prevent the shifting of teeth that surround a missing tooth.
• Safeguard against harmful plaque and tarter build-up in hard-to-reach places created by shifting or teeth.
• Fight bone loss in the region of the missing tooth.
The single tooth implant replaces the missing tooth’s roots. It is a freestanding unit and does not involve treatment to the adjacent teeth. If the surrounding teeth are healthy, they can remain untouched, and their strength and integrity may be maintained. The implant can stabilize your bite and help prevent problems with the jaw.
Dental implants may be used to support a bridge when several teeth are missing. The bridge replaces the lost natural teeth as well as some of the tooth roots. An implant-supported bridge does not require support from adjacent teeth.
If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant-supported denture can replace the missing teeth as well as some of the tooth roots. Because the dental implants integrate with the jawbone, an implant-supported denture is generally comfortable and stable, allowing you to bite and chew naturally.
The placement of an implant generally is a three-part process that takes several months.
1. The dentist surgically places the implant into the jaw, with the top of the implant slightly above the top of the bone. A screw is inserted into the implant to prevent gum tissue and other debris from entering. The gum is then secured over the implant, where it will remain covered for approximately three to six months while the implant fuses with the bone.
2. The implant is uncovered and the dentist attaches an extension, called an abutment, to the implant. The gum tissue is allowed to heal around the abutment. Once healed, the implant and abutment can serve as the foundation for the new tooth.
3. The dentist makes a custom artificial tooth, called a dental crown, based on a size, shape, color and fit that will blend with your other teeth. Once completed, the crown is attached to the implant abutment.
Who is a candidate for dental implant surgery?
If you are in generally good health, have healthy gums, and your jawbone can support an implant, this treatment may be an option for you. In fact, your health is more of a factor than your age.
Are there any other considerations for implant dentistry?
Most patients find that an implant is secure and stable – a good replacement for a crown. Implants, however are not an option for everyone. Because implants require surgery, patients should be in good health overall and have healthy gums. Also, patients either must have adequate bone to support the implant, or be good candidates for surgery to build up the area needing the implant.
The treatment time for dental implants is longer and the cost higher than that of alternative procedures. Regular dental visits are essential to the life and long-term success of your implant. Some patients are scheduled for professional cleanings two to four times per year. Your dentist will provide you with a dental recall program to ensure the health of your implant and your natural teeth.
Your dentist also will suggest a home-care routine to suit your needs, which will include brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. You may also be advised to use a special toothbrush, an interproximal brush, or a mouth rinse to help prevent cavities and periodontal disease.