Dental implants have revolutionized dentistry in the last few decades by offering the healthiest and most-natural looking replacement for missing teeth. A missing tooth can create a number of dental problems such as the movement of your remaining teeth, bone loss and changes to your bite—all of which can have a negative impact on your overall health. While numerous types of tooth replacement options exist, dental implants are the most effective solution and can last a lifetime.
What are Dental Implants? How do they work?
Dental implants are made up of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body. They are posts or frames that are surgically positioned in the jawbone, where they function as a sturdy anchor for replacement artificial teeth, known as crowns. Dental implants fuse to your jawbone allowing for the most stable support for a crown, bridge or mounted denture. Bridges and dentures that are mounted to a dental implant will not shift or slip in your mouth, allowing you to speak and eat normally—something that is critical to your everyday life.
There are commonly several phases to getting a dental implant:
- First, the dentist surgically places the implant into the jawbone. What makes an implant so strong is the ability of the existing bone to grow around the implant, holding it stable and in place. This healing process where the bone fuses to the implant is known as Osseointegration.
- Healing times for implants vary depending on the condition of the patient's bone and can be extended in cases where performing additional procedures is necessary, such as a bone or tissue graft. In general, dental implants require between two to four months for the bone to heal. Your dentist may recommend a diet of soft foods, cold foods and liquids during this healing process.
- Some patients might need to wait several months until the implant is completely integrated to the bone, before a crown (replacement tooth) can be attached to the implant. Other patients can have the implants and replacement teeth placed all in one visit. This variation depends upon the placement of the implant as well as the health of the patient.
The replacement teeth usually take some time to make. In the meantime, your dentist may give you a temporary crown, bridge or denture to help you eat and speak normally until the permanent replacement is ready.
- Lastly, your dentist will place a crown to the implant. This crown will be customized for size, shape and color, and will be designed to fit securely and match perfectly with your other natural teeth. If you are replacing more than a single tooth, a custom-made bridge or denture will be made to fit your mouth and attach to your implants.
If you are interested in learning more about dental implants, or think that they might be a good option for you, we recommend that you give our office a call today for a consultation. We look forward helping you achieve the smile of your dreams.