Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth. Compared to alternatives, such as dentures and bridges, dental implants have unique advantages. For example, dental implants last longer, even throughout the patient’s lifetime. Subsequently, dental implants are considered permanent solutions to the dilemma of missing teeth. Dental implants are also stronger, and the strength decreases the possibility of undergoing yet another replacement for missing teeth.
Interestingly, a dental implant, similar to the tooth, has three parts: titanium implant, abutment, and crown. The titanium implant is similar to the root of the natural tooth. The titanium fuses with the jawbone, creating a very stable oral appliance. The abutment protectively covers the part of the titanium that sticks out of the gum line. And finally, the crown is similar in appearance to that of the natural tooth. The only difference between the tooth’s crown and the implant’s crown is that the latter is not susceptible to bacterial tooth decay.
Symptoms that May Require Dental Implants
An adult with a missing tooth or several missing teeth is a candidate for dental implants. Teeth may have been lost due to an injury, bacterial decay, or the failure of a root canal treatment, but generally speaking, what causes tooth loss is not relevant to the dental implant procedure itself. However, it is important that the mouth is relatively healthy before embarking upon a dental implant process.
Dental Implant Treatments
The dental implant treatment procedure usually begins with a consultation and an evaluation to ensure that all conditions are optimal before the surgery. For example, some cosmetic dentists would ask that a patient stops smoking before proceeding with the dental implants. Other dentists may accept smokers, but will clarify that the success rate of dental implants is adversely affected by smoking.
The next step is the preparation of the jaw for the implantation. A tiny pilot hole is drilled into the part of the jaw that has no tooth. A highly skilled dentist can easily avoid areas that would affect the structure of the face. Then, the titanium implant is screwed into the hole. This implant is covered and the gum is allowed to heal. The titanium is expected to merge with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration. This can take weeks or months. Once healed, the implant cover is removed and replaced with a temporary crown. The gum is allowed to grow naturally around the crown. And finally, the temporary crown is replaced with a permanent one.
Dental Implant Results
The results of a dental implant are long lasting, and they will look like natural teeth. Dental implants won’t decay, chip or crack. However, the patient must remember that the gums around the implant are still susceptible to bacterial decay, and subsequently, proper oral hygiene is still very important.