What are dental implants?
A dental implant is a replacement for a tooth root which provides a strong foundation for either a permanent tooth or removable replacement teeth. The crowns or bridges which top the implants can be made to match the natural color of your teeth. Advantages to having a dental implant include:
- Improved appearance and speech - Dental implants feel and look and like your natural teeth. Because they fuse with bone, they become permanent. Dentures which fit poorly can slip in your mouth and causes you to slur your words or mumble. Dental implants allow you to speak without these worries and with more confidence.
- Improved comfort - Because they become a part of you, the discomfort of removable dentures is eliminated.
- Easier eating - dentures which slide often make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your natural teeth and allow you to eat whatever you like with confidence and without pain.
- Improved oral health - with implants there is no need to reduce other teeth as a tooth-supported bridge requires. More of your teeth are left intact, which improves oral health over the long-term.
- Durability - With proper care, many implants last a lifetime.
- Convenience - Dental implants eliminate the embarrassing inconvenience of removing dentures. As an added bonus there is no need for messy adhesives that sometimes keep dentures in place and sometimes don’t.
Who is a good candidate for implants?
In most cases, anyone who is healthy enough to undergo oral surgery or even a routine dental extraction is a candidate for a dental implant. The office will consult with you to determine if your gums are healthy and if you have sufficient bone tissue to hold an implant. Heavy smokers, people with uncontrolled chronic disorders, such as diabetes or heart disease, or patients who have had radiation therapy for the head and neck area must be evaluated on an individual basis.
What is the procedure like?
- An individualized treatment plan - The plan developed for you addresses your specific needs. A team of oral surgical professionals provides coordinated care based on the implant option which meets your specific need.
- The tooth root implant - a small post made of titanium, is set into the bone socket of the missing tooth. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implanted post, securely anchoring it in the jaw. The healing process generally takes from six to 12 weeks.
- Abutment - Once the implant has bonded to the jawbone, a small connector post known as an abutment is attached to the post to hold the new tooth securely in place. The dentist makes impressions of your teeth to create a model of your bite. The new tooth or teeth are based on this model. A crown, or replacement tooth, is then attached to the abutment. In the case of more than one crown, some patients choose to have attachments placed on the implant that retain and support a removable denture.
The dentist will also always match the color of the new teeth to your natural teeth. Because the implant is embedded within the jawbone, your replacement teeth feel, look, and function just like your own natural teeth.