What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a replacement for a missing tooth. It consists of three primary parts:
- A small titanium post surgically implanted in the jawbone, where it bonds to the bone as the root of a natural tooth does.
- A smaller post attached to the implant that serves as an anchor for the visible artificial tooth, known as a crown.
- The crown, mounted to the post to look and function like a natural tooth.
Dental implants are considered to be the best replacement for missing teeth because they prevent the deterioration of bone in the jaw, require no special care (as do dentures), allow for completely normal function, and look like natural teeth. Under normal conditions, an implant is a permanent solution.
Why do patients need them?
Whether extracted or lost by other means, missing teeth not only detract from the normal function and appearance of a person's mouth but can also cause bone, gum and bite problems. Traditionally, dentures have been used to take the place of missing teeth, but they often pose problems with fit, function and appearance. In addition, they must be removed and cleaned every day. Implants resolve all of the problems associated with dentures. In fact, implants are often recommended as a means of anchoring dentures more securely.
What is the process like?
The procedure for dental implants usually occurs in two stages:
- First, the implant is placed in the jawbone, where is must be allowed to bond completely with the bone tissue before any significant pressure is applied. The healing period can last from three to six months, during which time temporary dentures can be used. In some cases involving front teeth-which tend to be subjected to less pressure during normal use-the crown can also be attached during this stage.
- In the second stage, the new artificial tooth is mounted permanently to the now-bonded implant post. At the completion of the procedure, the patient can immediately begin enjoying the benefits of implants-with no restrictions.