What Are Dental Implants?
What are dental implants? A dental implant is an artificial tooth root surgically embedded into your jaw, which anchors a custom-made replacement tooth. Rather than resting on the gum line as removable dentures do, or using adjacent teeth as anchors as fixed bridges do, dental implants offer long-term solutions for your tooth loss. Dental implants allow you to enjoy the beauty and functionality of healthy teeth without the maintenance, embarrassment, and periodical replacement of dentures and fixed bridges. A dental implant designed to replace a single tooth is made up of three parts: the titanium tooth root, the abutment (fits over the portion of the implant that protrudes from the gum line), and the crown (fits onto abutment for a natural appearance).
- Step 1: A preliminary examination is conducted in which your dentist will take x-rays, diagnostic casts, and photographs.
- Step 2: Dental implant surgery is then required to replace tooth roots with metal, screw-like anchors. Swelling usually subsides after 4–6 days, and sutures are removed 7–10 days following surgery. During this time, a soft-food diet is recommended. Osseointegration, or the fusing of the jawbone to the titanium artificial tooth root, occurs in 4–6 months, ensuring a permanent and secure hold.
- Step 3: The implants are uncovered and checked for osseointegration. If everything is secure, the abutments are placed. More x-rays and impressions are done in preparation for the crown production.
- Step 4: Crowns are placed, and the final adjustments are made.
What are the types of dental implants?
Endosteal (in the bone): This is the most common dental implant and what is described above. Depending on the severity of the problem that necessitated the replacement, the root implants may resemble cylinders or blades rather than screws. Each implant holds one or more abutment and crown.
Subperiosteal (on the bone): This type of implant is placed on top of the jaw and held in place with metal framework posts protruding through the gums to hold the abutment(s) and crown(s). This is used in cases in which the patient may not have sufficient jawbone height for osseointegration.
What are the advantages of dental implants?
Improved appearance. Implants look and feel just like your very own teeth.
Improved speech. Dentures and bridgework can cause clicking sounds and slurps that give your “false teeth” secret away in a heartbeat.
Improved oral health. Implants do not rely on the support of other teeth as fixed bridges do, leaving your healthy teeth untouched. Implants also allow for easier access for daily brushing and flossing.
Improved self-esteem. Smile confidently again—without worrying about gaps and denture slips.
Improved comfort over dentures and bridgework. Dental implants literally become a part of you through the osseointegration process. You’ll never give them a second thought.
Convenience. Dentures are a hassle. Dental implants let you say goodbye to messy adhesives and embarrassing removals.
Easier to eat. Just like it’s easier to talk—it’s also much easier to eat with implants as opposed to bridgework or dentures. The implants function as do your healthy teeth, allowing you to enjoy your favorite foods with confidence and without pain.
Durability. Recurrent decay, periodontal disease, and other factors require fixed bridges and removable dentures that need to be replaced every 7–12 years. With good care, dental implants have no problem lasting a lifetime.
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* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.