Patients who experience tooth loss have choices about how to correct it. One of those choices, for people who have lost multiple teeth, is dentures. To replace one or more lost teeth another solution is dental implants. If you do not know what dental implants are or how dentists use them to replace lost teeth, read on. We will answer your questions.
What Are Dental Implants?
Today’s dental implant technology is the result of the work of a Swedish scientist named Per-Ingvar Brånemark. In 1952 he discovered that titanium fuses with bone while studying the anatomy of blood flow. He attached an optical device to the leg of a rabbit to observe microcirculation in the bone tissue and was surprised to learn that over time it fused to the bone. This discovery revolutionized modern dentistry, and tens of millions of people around the world have benefitted.
A dental implant is a titanium device that acts as an artificial tooth root. It’s shaped like a screw and inserted into the bone socket of the missing tooth where it bonds with the jawbone over the course of 6-12 weeks. When this bonding has occurred, the implant acts as a sturdy base for one or more artificial teeth also known as crowns. The dentist then attaches an abutment on top of the implant. The abutment connects the implant to the crown. The dentist makes impressions of the patient’s teeth and a model of his bite to make the crown match his existing teeth perfectly.
There is very little discomfort involved in getting a dental implant. The dentist may give you the option of a local anesthetic. Afterwards some people use over-the-counter medicines to relieve mild pain.
What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?
Patients with dentures that are not correctly fitted or inserted can experience slipping which makes it harder for them to speak or eat. Dentures can press uncomfortably against the gums, causing pain. Some patients feel embarrassed about having “false teeth” and hide them by not smiling or opening their mouths widely.
Dental implants, on the other hand, are the closest thing to real teeth that modern dentistry has. They’re a permanent solution to tooth loss. They look, feel, and behave like real teeth so that patients with dental implants can talk, eat, laugh, and smile normally and naturally. Patients do not have to worry that their teeth will move or slide or look odd or artificial.
Dental implants are also durable. They don’t attach to other teeth like a bridge does or require any altering of nearby teeth, reducing the risk of cavities or other oral health problems occurring. With regular, routine oral health care like brushing, flossing, and dental checkups, they can last a lifetime.
Who Is a Good Candidate for a Dental Implant?
All patients who are in good general health can be considered good candidates. They should have healthy gums and enough bone to hold an implant. They should also commit to caring for their teeth afterwards, including seeing the dentist for routine checkups. If you are a heavy smoker or have a chronic health issue like diabetes, ask your dentist about how this might affect the effectiveness of this procedure.
Dental implants are a great option for anyone who has lost teeth. The dental implant procedure is safe and effective when performed by a trained and experienced dentist. If you have any other questions about dental implants and whether they would work for you, please ask your dentist at your next checkup.