Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth which look, feel and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. Patients with dental implants can smile with confidence.
The implants themselves are tiny titanium posts, which are inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. They are surgically placed into the jawbone. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts are then attached to the implant, which protrude through the gums. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth.
Why are Implants Better than Dentures and Bridges?
There are other routes a patient can take to replace missing teeth, including dentures and bridges; however, dental implants are a much better solution for many reasons. Adjacent teeth do not have to be altered to support an implant, such as with bridgework. This is significant for your overall oral health by leaving more of your own teeth untouched. With a tooth-supported fixed bridge, the adjacent teeth are ground down to support the fixed bridge. Dental implants are integrated into the structure of your bone, preventing gum recession and possible bone loss that can sometimes be attributed to bridgework and dentures. Dental implants function just as your natural teeth do, offering you more comfort and stability than conventional dentures.
Placement of Dental Implants
Dental implants aid in replacing a single tooth, several teeth or even all of your teeth. The implant itself looks like a screw or cylinder and is placed into the jaw. Over the period of 2-6 months, the implant and jawbone bond together to provide an anchor for the crown. An abutment is used as an extension to complete the foundation for the new tooth to be attached.
Sometimes several teeth need to be replaced, and implant-supported bridges are a prime option as opposed to fixed bridges or removable partial dentures. The bone is better preserved with implant-supported bridges as it replaces some of your tooth roots that had deteriorated.
Replacing all of your teeth is also possible with implant-supported full bridges (teeth in a day) or implant-supported dentures. Patients are able to preserve their natural bite with implants and achieve more comfort and stability than with conventional dentures.
Post Implant Care
Although proper oral hygiene is always recommended for maintaining good dental health, it is especially important when a patient has received a dental implant. Bacteria can attack sensitive areas in the mouth when teeth and gums are not properly cleaned, thus causing gums to swell and jaw bones to gradually recede.
Recession of the jawbone will weaken implants and eventually make it necessary for the implant to be removed. Patients are advised to visit their dentists at least twice a year to ensure the health of their teeth and implants. Dental implants can last for decades when given proper care.