What are dental implants?
What is a dental implant? It looks and fees like your own tooth. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that replaces a missing tooth. It looks like a screw and is made of titanium, a highly bio-compatible material. Dental implants are used to replace one or several missing teeth. They are surgically placed in the jawbone to create the basis on which the prosthetic teeth will be built. In time, bone cells develop around the implant, reinforcing i into the jaw and fusing it with the surrounding bone. Dentists use implants to make crowns that have the same appearance and texture as natural teeth.
The Implantation Process
As with most dental procedures, the dental implant process begins by examining the area and developing a treatment plan for the individual. A small titanium post goes into the tooth socket, where the jawbone regenerates around the post as it heals. That healing process can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to complete. In certain limited cases, the dentist can use techniques that may allow immediate use of the implant. Once the titanium dental implant is fully integrated into the jaw, the dentist attaches a connector, called an abutment, to the implant which gives the dentist something to which s/he can attach a crown or a bridge. The dentist matches the crown or bridge to match with your existing teeth, creating a seamless appearance that looks completely natural.
The tooth implant process requires very little anesthesia; and local anesthesia using lidocaine is typically sufficient. Patients describe the pain as less than that experienced during a tooth extraction. With proper dental care and hygiene, tooth implants can last a lifetime.
Why do I have to wait up to 6 months for the implant to heal?
As mentioned, there are situations where a dentist can load an implant quickly, meaning attach a crown or a denture to it. However, there are higher risks involved with loading implants right away. Soft tissue heals in a few weeks, but broken bones can take months to fully heal.
If you break an arm, you can’t used that arm right away. It will take months to heal, and it is highly risky, obviously, to load force on that arm! If you don’t wait enough, your arm can break again. Therefore, the safest way is to let the implant fully heal, before we load it with force.
What are the disadvantages?
- implant placement takes longer and may require more dental visits than alternative procedures
- dental implants maybe more invasive compared to bridges
- dental implants are typically more costly than alternative procedures
What are the advantages of dental implants?
- an implant is most similar to a natural tooth
- adjacent teeth do not have to be involved or drilled in the placement procedure
- implants may decrease or help prevent shrinkage of the jawbone that occur frequently from tooth loss
- increase retention of dentures
What happens if I do nothing?
Missing teeth is a common but painful problem, not only in terms of esthetics as many believe. It can lead to serious health problems. Missing teeth can lead to collapse of your normal bite, and gradually cause serious injury to your jaw joint (temporal mandibular joint).
Over time, tooth that was opposing the missing tooth area, will gradually move out of its own socket, causing painful tooth root exposure. However, many people tend to neglect this condition, thus negatively affecting their lifestyle. Properly placed dental implants can prevent many of these problems.
For more information about dental implants or to schedule your consultation, contact our offices today.