Missing teeth not only create gaps in your smile, they can also cause pain or discomfort, and can even contribute to long-term dental health problems. Implants are a smart solution for missing teeth and they make it easy to speak, eat, smile, and sleep without pain or discomfort. Dental implants are a long-lasting, low-maintenance solution that can save you money in the long run by preventing the need for future dental work.
What is a dental implant
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that provide a permanent base for fixed, replacement teeth. Compared to dentures, bridges and crowns, dental implants are a popular and effective long-term solution for people who suffer from missing teeth, failing teeth or chronic dental problems. Because they fit, feel and function like natural teeth, dental implants are quickly becoming a new standard in tooth replacement.
Dental implants typically have three parts:
1) The implant: A screw that serves as a root for your new teeth. This is what permanently attaches to your jaw.
2) The abutment: A permanent, but removable by your doctor, connector that supports and holds a tooth or set of teeth.
3) The crown (or prosthetic tooth): This is the part of the tooth that you can see. It’s usually made of zirconium or porcelain for durability and good looks.
This video shows you how a dental implant substitutes a missing front tooth’s root structure with a post placed into the bone and a special healing cap on top.
The dental implant process
The whole process can take six months or more. But the end result is a natural looking tooth that lasts a lifetime.
First: A full exam of your mouth. Your dentist and oral surgeon will use X-Rays to evaluate the health of your jaw and adjoining teeth.
You may need bone restoration. If you lost your tooth (or teeth) because of advanced gum disease, or a long time has passed since they were pulled, your jaw bone may be too weak to support an implant. To strengthen it, an oral surgeon will graft sterile bone material onto your jaw. It can take up to six months for new bone to grow around the graft.
Placing the implant. Your oral surgeon will install a titanium bolt deep into your jaw. It just takes a little local numbing; you won’t feel a thing. Once the bolt is placed, the surgeon will cover it with a temporary crown.
Osseointegration time. During osseointegration, the bone of your jaw grows around and into the implant. After 3-6 months, the bolt is as firmly rooted in your jaw as a natural tooth.
Dental impressions and crown design. Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth to make a mold of your entire mouth. A lab will use the impression to cast a three-dimensional model of your teeth that they’ll use to craft the permanent crown that will mount on your implant. The lab will shape your new crown so that it blends in naturally with your teeth.
Placing the crown. Once your implant is completely healed and ready to support your new crown, your dentist will install it permanently. You’ll be able to bite and chew with it just like a natural tooth. Plus, your jawbone will stay healthy and strong.
Benefits of dental implants
Dental implants offer many advantages that help patients regain dental function, restore appearance, and enjoy long-term value.
- Lifetime Solution: Dental implants can last a lifetime with proper care. Short-term fixes like bridges and dentures typically only last 5-10 years, and these recurring costs can add up.
- Like Real Teeth: Dental implants look, feel, and work like natural teeth. You can eat comfortably, speak without them moving around in your mouth, and avoid the hassles of daily removal.
- Prevent Bone Loss: The jawbone begins to deteriorate after teeth are lost, which over time creates a sunken-in look that can make you appear older. Dental implants can help preserve the jawbone.
Compare teeth replacement options
You can put an end to dealing with missing teeth or repetitive dental work with dental implants. Take a look at how dental implants compare to traditional bridges and dentures.
How long do they last
- Dental Implants: With proper care, dental implants can last a lifetime.
- Dentures: They typically last 5-7 years.
- Bridges: Traditional bridges typically last 7-10 years.
How do they keep my mouth healthy
- Dental Implants: Dental implants stimulate the jawbone, like natural tooth roots, preventing the jawbone from deteriorating. They can be precisely placed without damaging healthy surrounding teeth.
- Dentures: Dentures accelerate jawbone loss, and they can cause gum irritation and sores.
- Bridge: To attach a traditional bridge, healthy teeth are ground down, permanently damaging them.
Bridge versus Implant
This video shows you the differences between a bridge and a dental implant to replace a missing tooth, while reviewing the benefits and potential drawbacks of each.