With people living longer, it becomes even more important for them to take care of their teeth. However, even with regular visits to the dentist and great oral hygiene that beautiful smile and complete use of teeth may not last forever. Losing teeth may be due to decay, disease, injury, or simply aging.
The great news for patients is that dental implants are available that can rejuvenate the smile, and return to the person normal dental function and oral health.
A dental implant is a synthetic tooth fixed to a post that has been securely fixed into the jawbone. The dental implant is made to fit precisely and to replicate the look and color of the missing tooth. The post is usually made of titanium, the same material commonly found in replacement hips and knees. This metal has been proven over time to work well with human bone. The synthetic tooth is fixed to the titanium post either permanently or in a way that allows the tooth to be removable. Permanent attachment is usually recommended, since it feels more natural and stable.
The best candidate for a dental implant is someone with overall good oral health, sufficient bone in the jaw, and good, strong, gums. It’s also highly recommended that the person does not smoke as this can interfere with the healing process and with general oral health
Dental implants are metal anchors, which act as tooth root substitutes. They are surgically placed into the jawbone. Small posts are then attached to the implant, which protrude through the gums. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth.
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed within your jawbone. For the first three to six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums, gradually bonding with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time. At the same time, your restorative dentist designs the final bridgework or denture, which will ultimately improve both function and aesthetics.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. The surgeon will uncover the implants and attach a small healing collar. An impression must be taken. Then posts or attachments can be connected to the implants. The replacement teeth are then made over the posts or attachments. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months. Most patients do not experience any disruption in their daily life.