What is a dental implant?
Dental implant technically refers to an artificial tooth root that is placed in the jaw to replace one or more missing teeth. The dental implant usually connects to an abutment, a small connector that helps it attach to a dental crown which is the visible part of the tooth replacement. Often, people use “dental implant” to refer to the entire structure: root, abutment, and crown.
What are dental implants made of?
Dental implants are made of titanium, either pure titanium or a titanium alloy. Titanium is a nontoxic, biocompatible metal that is well accepted by the body. Bone will even grow around and incorporate the titanium in its structure, though sometimes certain coatings are used to encourage bone growth around the implant.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
Dental implants are the best tooth replacement option because they:
- Look natural
- Won’t slip out
- Require no special maintenance
- Let you eat all your favorite foods
- Help you speak clearly
- Stimulate your jawbone
- Support your gums
- Don’t require support from other teeth
- Can last a lifetime
With all these benefits, it’s no wonder that they continue to grow in popularity.
Why is it important to stimulate my jawbone?
We think of the bones in our body as set and unchanging, but in reality they’re being constantly reworked. When you lose teeth, your body thinks the jawbone isn’t being used anymore and removes it. Especially when you’ve lost all your teeth, this can lead to a shrinkage of your face and a risk of a broken jawbone.
Dental implants stimulate your jawbone so it doesn’t get removed by your body.
Do dental implants really last a lifetime?
Yes. At least 20-year studies of dental implants show that there’s no reason they shouldn’t last indefinitely. The first dental implant patient ever had them for 40 years before he passed away with the dental implants still in place.
Am I a candidate for dental implants?
Almost anyone who has lost one or more teeth is a candidate for dental implants. However, you may be at an increased risk for implant failure if you:
- Are a smoker
- Have a personal or family history of gum disease
- Have poor bone health
You may also need additional treatments if you:
- Have low bone density or volume
- Have untreated gum disease
How many teeth can dental implants replace?
Dental implants can be used to replace any number of lost teeth. If you have a single lost tooth, a single implant may be used. If you have lost three teeth next to each other, two dental implants supporting a bridge may be used. Sometimes, it may take only four to replace an entire arch of teeth (i.e.: all teeth on the bottom or top).
What is the dental implant process like?
First, dental implants are placed in your jawbone. We will assess the state of the implant at this point and determine whether you can have a dental crown on it right away or if it needs to heal before it can support one. If you can’t get a dental crown, there are other option to temporarily fill the gap in your smile.
We will check on your implant regularly. It may take three to six months for the implant to become fully integrated into the bone. Once it is integrated, it can get its permanent crown. At that point, your dental implant is finished. All you have to do is brush, floss, and make regular check-ups with your implant dentist or general dentist.