Whether it happens suddenly, because of an accident, or as a result of gradual tooth decay, tooth loss can be a traumatic event. Having a missing teeth not only affects one’s bite strength, it can also have negative effects on the structure of the face and speech. To help treat such complications, a dental implant may be recommended because of the many advantages it offers:
- Dental implants are durable and can last for a long time, with proper care.
- Avoid the inconvenience of having to remove implants, unlike dentures, because they are affixed to the bone.
- They look just like the surrounding biological teeth.
- Same bite strength as the natural teeth.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is an artificial root made of titanium metal. It is inserted into the jawbone to replace the root of the natural tooth. An artificial replacement tooth is attached to the implant. The implant acts as an anchor to hold the replacement tooth in place.
Who can get dental implants?
If you are in good general health, have healthy gums and have enough bone in the jaw to hold an implant, dental implants might be right for you. If your jawbone has shrunk or if it has not developed normally, you may be able to have a bone graft to build up the bone. A bone graft is a way of adding new bone to your jawbone. Your dentist or dental specialist will tell you if bone grafting can be done.
How successful are Dental Implants?
Success rates of dental implants vary, depending on where in the jaw the implants are placed but, in general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 98%. With proper care, implants can last a lifetime.
How dental implants are done?
- Your dentist or specialist will carefully examine your mouth and take x-rays of your head, jaw and teeth to find out if dental implants are right for you.
- During the first stage, your dentist or specialist will put a dental implant into your jawbone beneath the gum tissue. The gum tissue is then stitched back into place. As the tissue heals, the implant will bond with the bone and attach to the gum. The healing process may take several months to complete.
- During the second stage of surgery and once the tissue is healed, your dentist or specialist will attach an abutment to the implant. An abutment is a post that connects the replacement tooth to the implant. In some cases, the first and second stage of implant surgery may be done in one single stage.
- An artificial replacement tooth is made and your dentist or specialist attaches it to the abutment. It may take several appointments to properly fit the replacement tooth to the abutment.
- When replacing several teeth or all of your teeth, a fixed bridge is anchored to your dental implants. A bridge is a dental restoration that replaces one or more missing teeth by spanning an area that has no teeth. The bridge is held firmly in place by dental implants on each side of the missing tooth or teeth.
What else should I know?
- Several visits to your dentist or dental specialist may be needed until the process is done.
- Checkups will be scheduled during the following year so your dentist can be sure your implants are working properly.
- You will need to take very good care of your implants.
- Implants can cost more than other kinds of replacement teeth and might not be covered by your dental plan. But in most cases this is a one-time cost, unlike other kinds of tooth replacement procedures.
- Although rare, possible complications due to dental implants include bleeding, infection, numbness or injury to nearby muscles or the sinus cavity. In some cases, the implant may not be successful because it didn’t bond to the bone.