Dental implants are a long lasting alternative to dentures and bridges. Rather than resting on the gum, these special implants actually form into the jaw bone. This offers many advantages over other forms of tooth replacement.
What Are Dental Implants?
An implant consists of a root and a crown, much like a natural tooth. An abutment is used to attach the crown to the root. A titanium screw is used in place of the root. Titanium is able to stimulate bone growth, causing the screw to fuse with the bone. This gives a solid basis for the new artificial crown to be attached to. With implants, there is not the associated bone loss that occurs with other dental appliances.
Advantages of Implants over Dentures and Bridgework
Special implants not only look like natural teeth but they act like natural teeth as well. Because implants are fixed into the jaw bone, they fit perfectly and there is no chance of slipping unlike other dental appliances. Some advantages of having implants over other dental appliances include:
- More natural looking
- More natural functioning
- Better fit
- Long lasting, often permanent
- More comfortable
- Easier eating, chewing, and speaking
- Better oral health
- Increased durability
- No need to remove
Getting an Implant
Although some steps may be combined for the implant process that depend on the surgeon, the most common procedure involves several steps to insure proper stabilization and healing of the titanium root prior to installation of the crown. After an initial examination, the affected tooth will be removed if it has not already been done previously. The titanium screw will be inserted into the jaw bone and given time to heal. During this period, the bone will fuse with the root in a process called osseointegration, which may take from a few weeks to a few months. An abutment is used to attach the crown to the root and may be placed at the same time as the screw or at a later appointment with placement of the crown.
Those with gum disease may have to have this issue resolved prior to receiving implants. Those with bone loss may need to have the jaw bone prepared for the implant prior to the titanium screw being inserted. This might involve a process called bone grafting and is used to build up bone tissue where the root will be implanted in the jaw.
Candidates for Implants
Most people who wish to have implants are able to have the procedure performed. This procedure can even be done on some people with certain existing medical or health conditions, those who smoke, and those with gum or bone problems, including gum disease and bone loss. Other procedures may need to be performed prior to implantation to increase the success of the implant procedure. It is important to discuss the issue with a qualified professional on an individual basis to determine if dental implants are right for you.