Dental implants can replace missing teeth without the need to have removable partial or complete dentures. They provide sturdy support for dental appliances.
Dental implants are artificial roots to which artificial teeth are attached. They are usually made from titanium. A dentist or periodontist (a doctor that specializes in the gums and supporting bone) surgically implants them into the jaw bone.
The artificial teeth that attach to the implants look very natural and can improve or restore your smile. They are quite durable and strong and should last for a number of years. Occasionally implants may need to be tightened or replaced due to normal wear and tear.
Dental implants may be needed to:
Replace a missing tooth (or several missing teeth) without disturbing the adjacent teeth
Correct problems with your bite due to teeth shifting into the space where teeth are missing
Restore your smile
Restore or improve facial tissues and features
Correct joint pain due to teeth shifting into the space where teeth are missing
Enable you to chew correctly, allowing digestion to function properly
Enable you to speak clearly
Provide support for partial dentures or a bridge, allowing them to fit securely and comfortably
The Dental Implant Process
The dental implant process involves several visits to a qualified dentist or periodontist and often takes several months.
First the dentist takes x-rays of the teeth and jaw and then he or she makes impressions (molds) of the teeth to determine the proper spacing for a dental implant. The shape and position and condition of the jaw bone and gum tissue is also taken into consideration.
When the implants are ready, the dentist numbs the area and surgically implants it into the bone. The area is then allowed to heal for up to six months, during which time it becomes integrated into the bone.
In some cases, a post and anchor that will hold an artificial tooth in place are attached at the time the implants are surgically implanted. In other cases, a second surgery is done to place the post and anchor at a later time. Talk to your dentist about which procedure he or she recommends in your case.
After the area has several weeks to heal, the dentist fits artificial teeth to the post and anchor of the plants. The size and color of the artificial teeth are carefully matched to your other teeth so they look very natural. Sometimes more than one fitting is needed so this part of the process may take a month or more to complete. After another period of healing, the dentist secures the artificial teeth to the implants. The artificial teeth are both stable and comfortable.
Your dentist will advise you about how to properly care for your implants. Good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, and regular dental visits will keep your dental implants in good condition and they will last a long time.
Sources:Your Dentistry Guide. http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/implants/. Dental Implants.