When you were a child, losing your teeth was something to look forward to. You anticipated pocket money from the tooth fairy and your adult teeth to come in.
Losing teeth as an adult, however, does not strike so much fanfare because we know that our mature teeth do not come with backups. This is why losing a tooth can result in a permanent void that requires an artificial tooth replacement.
The good news is that reconstructive dentistry has made many advancements in the recent years, offering patients viable options for replacing teeth so adults can enjoy having a full set of teeth even in the event of accidents or tooth decay.
If you need to replace a tooth, a dental implant can be the answer you are looking for. Dental implants are the only intervention that integrates naturally with your living bone, effectively becoming part of your body for life.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants can take the place of one or many teeth. They are made of titanium metal anchors that are embedded into the patient’s jawbone that serve as the root of a prosthetic tooth. An artificial tooth is then attached to this anchor after it is firmly established through a bone-fusing process called osseointegration.
In the end, dental implants fuse into your bone and connect with your gum tissue, becoming part of your mouth. These implants look and function just like natural teeth.
In fact, since dental implants replace your missing teeth by the root, they are the most natural and longest lasting compared to other tooth replacement procedures available.
Dental implants can also secure partial dentures to replace multiple teeth. Several dental implants can also be used as anchors to establish an overdenture or a fixed hybrid bridge. For each situation, there is a solution that can be tailored to your tooth replacement needs.
What are the different kinds of dental implants?
There are two types of dental implants: endosteal and subperiosteal.
Endosteal, which means “within” the bone, is the most common type of dental implant. Endosteal implants are surgically inserted with into your jaw which can later support prosthetic teeth.
Subperiosteal, which means “under the gum”, are dental implants that are placed on top of your jaw and not in the bone. The posts from the metal framework will come through the gum to hold the prosthesis. These are better for patients with a shallow jawbone or for those who do not want to endure the longer process of acquiring endosteal implants.
For the rest of this blog post, we will only be discussing endosteal implants since they are the most common.
Are dental implants right for you?
To find out if you are a good candidate for dental implants, you should make a consultation with your dental provider. For starters, however, meeting these criteria make it likely that dental implants would be good for you:
- If you have generally good oral health
- If you have enough bone in your jaw
- If you have healthy gums
- You are free from gingivitis or any other periodontal disease
- If you are not an uncontrolled diabetic or have other uncontrolled systemic disease.
What happens during a dental implant procedure?
Your dentist will first have a consultation with you to assess your specific needs. Every situation is unique and will be specialized to your unique condition.
Getting dental implants is not a quick process as it requires several procedures, ending as quickly as three months or lasting beyond nine months.
The reason why it takes a while is because of the process of osseointegration, which is when the implant becomes part of your jaw.
During osseointegration, the titanium implant that will act as the new tooth root must firmly fuse with your natural jaw bone. Without being completely fixed, your new implants will not be stable. Therefore, the first step (after check-ups and consultations) involves inserting the implant cylinders into your jawbone.
There is a waiting period between this step and the final two steps in order for the new cylinder “roots” to heal and completely become one with your facial bones.
After healing, your dental provider will attach an abutment to the cylinder, which will act as the support for your future prosthetic tooth. You will then have this abutment fitted with a crown or implant prosthesis.
You can expect to be put under sedation or given local or general anesthesia throughout these procedures to make sure you don’t feel any pain.
How do I care for my dental implants?
Dental implants need to be cared for just like natural teeth. For starters, you will need to continue regular home care and visit your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups.
You will also need to visit your periodontist as well to make sure your implants are in working order and that your gums and implants are healthy.
If you have any questions about dental implants or anything else regarding your oral health, please contact us.