Dental implants are a permanent alternative to bridges and dentures and can be used if one or more of your teeth are missing. Implants consist of an artificial root made of titanium that is used to support an artificial tooth or teeth.
Are you considering dental implants? Book an appointment with your dentist today to discuss your candidacy.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are made up of two parts: the root and the artificial tooth or teeth. The titanium root is inserted into the jaw to replace the root of your natural tooth. An artificial replacement tooth, or teeth, is then secured to the top of the artificial root, which acts as an anchor.
Why Choose Dental Implants?
Dental implants can:
- Replace one or more missing teeth without impacting your adjacent, natural teeth
- Resolve joint pain or bite problems that are caused by teeth shifting into the missing tooth space
- Rectify chewing and speech problems
- Improve your digestion by allowing you to chew your food more thoroughly
- Restore or enhance facial tissues
- Be used to securely and comfortably support a bridge or denture
- Improve patient confidence
Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
Dental implants are not a suitable choice for all patients. Patients considering dental implants should be in good general health, have healthy gums, and have enough bone in their jaws to support the implants. If your dentist determines that you do not have enough bone mass in your jaw to support a dental implant your dentist may be able to perform a bone graft to build up your jaw.
Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that involves taking a piece of bone from one part of the body and grafting it onto a different site. The new site is strengthened and built up using the newly grafted bone. Bone grafting can be used to prepare your jaw for dental implants.
Dental Implants Process
If you are considering dental implants, your dentist will carefully assess your mouth and jaw to determine if dental implants are a good choice for you. This preliminary assessment will include taking x-rays of your jaw, teeth, and head. If your dentist determines you are a good candidate they will then schedule your surgery.
Your surgery will likely take place in two parts over the course of two separate appointments. During the first portion of your surgery your dentist will implant the titanium root into your jawbone, beneath your gum line, and then stitch the gum tissue back into place.
As the gum tissue heals, the titanium root will bond to your jawbone and attach to your gum, creating a firm anchor for the artificial tooth. This healing process can take up to several months. However, in some cases, your dentist may be able to perform the whole procedure in one single stage.
Once your gum tissue has healed your dentist can perform the second part of your surgery. During this phase, your dentist will attach an abutment to your titanium root. An abutment is a small post which is used to connect your artificial tooth securely to your titanium root. Once the abutment is in place, your dentist will attach your artificial tooth. Your dentist may have to schedule one or more follow up visits with you after your surgery to ensure that your replacement tooth is settling onto your abutment correctly.
If you are having several or all of your teeth replaced your dentist may use your dental implants to support a fixed bridge. A fixed bridge consists of several artificial teeth cemented together and is used to span an area with no teeth.
Dental implants can be used by patients who still have their natural teeth, but whose natural teeth are severely decayed or damaged. If this is the case, your dentist will need to extract the damaged tooth, and allow the area to heal, before they can proceed with your dental implant. Your dentist will determine the best course of action based on the condition of your teeth, your unique dental needs, and your oral and overall health.
Caring For Your Dental Implants
One of the benefits of dental implants is that they look and feel just like natural teeth, and just like natural teeth they need to be kept clean. To keep your dental implants clean you should floss at least once per day, and brush at least twice per day. Your dentist will go over how to properly clean your new dental implants with you and answer any questions you may have.
You should also continue to undergo regular dental exams and cleanings. Regular exams enable your dentist to ensure that your bite is correct and that your implants remain firmly seated, and regular cleanings remove plaque and tartar and help prevent gum disease.