Despite improvements in dental care, millions of patients still suffer tooth loss, usually due to caries, periodontitis, or trauma. For a long time, bridges and dentures were the only treatments available for people with missing teeth. However, dental implants are available today.
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a replacement of the root of a tooth. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed (permanent) or removable tooth replacements that are made to fit your natural teeth.
What are the advantages of dental implants?
Dental implants have many advantages, including:
- Improved Appearance. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. And because they’re designed to fuse to bone, they’re permanent. • Language improvements. If your dentures don’t fit properly, your teeth may slide around your mouth, causing you to mutter or speak slurred. Dental implants allow you to speak without fear of your teeth moving.
- Improved Comfort. Implants become part of you, eliminating the discomfort of removable dentures. Eat lightly. Sliding dentures make it difficult to chew. Dental implants act like your own teeth, so you can eat your favorite foods with confidence and pain-free.
- Improved Self-Esteem. Dental implants can help restore your smile and make you feel better. •Improved oral hygiene. Dental implants do not require cutting down other teeth like tooth-supported bridges do. Adjacent teeth are not modified to support the implants, leaving more of your own teeth intact and improving long-term oral health. Individual implants also facilitate access between teeth and improve oral hygiene.
- Durability. Implants are highly durable and can last for years. With good care, many implants can last a lifetime.
- Comfortable. Removable dentures are just that. Removable. Dental implants eliminate the pesky inconvenience of removing dentures and the need for pesky adhesives to hold them in place. How successful are dental implants?
The success rate of dental implants depends on where the implant is placed in the jaw, but generally dental implants have a success rate of up to 98%. With proper care (see below), implants can last a lifetime.
Who Can Get Dental Implants?
In most cases, people who are healthy enough to have regular tooth extractions or oral surgery are candidates for dental implants. The patient’s gums should be healthy and have enough bone to hold the implant. They should also be committed to good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Heavy smokers, people with uncontrolled chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease, or patients who have undergone radiation therapy to the head and neck should be evaluated on an individual basis. If you’re considering implants, talk to your dentist to see if they’re right for you.
What is involved in obtaining a dental implant?
The first step in the dental implant process is the creation of a customized treatment plan. A plan is tailored to your specific needs and created by a team of specially trained and experienced professionals in oral surgery and restorative dentistry.
This team approach provides tailored care based on the implant option that works best for you. A root implant, a small titanium post, is then placed into the bone socket of the missing tooth. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implanted metal post, anchoring it firmly in the jaw. The healing process can take 6 to 12 weeks.
Once the implant is connected to the jawbone, a small connecting post called an abutment is attached to the post to hold the new tooth securely. To create new teeth, the dentist takes impressions of the teeth and creates a model of the occlusion (capturing all teeth, their types and placement). New teeth or teeth are based on this model. Next, an artificial tooth called a crown is attached to the abutment.
Some patients may have attachments to their implants that hold and support removable dentures in place of one or more single crowns.
The dentist will also match the color of your new teeth to your natural teeth. Implants are anchored to the jawbone so they look, feel and function like natural teeth. How painful are dental implants?
Most people who have had dental implants say the procedure is very uncomfortable. Local anesthesia may be used during the procedure, and most patients report that the implant is less painful than tooth extraction.