All about dental implants

dental implants

A dental implant is a long-term solution for replacing missing teeth. Your dentist places them directly into your jawbone, where they provide an artificial replacement for the root of your missing tooth or teeth. They can support crowns or dentures, in a similar way that roots support natural teeth. Having missing teeth can knock your confidence, as well as affect the way you eat and speak. Dental implants offer a long-lasting and discreet choice of treatment for replacing teeth.

A dental implant itself is a titanium screw, which is placed directly into your jawbone, replacing your missing tooth root. After it’s fitted, the bone surrounding your implant will gradually fuse to it, holding the implant firmly in place. A false tooth (a crown or denture) is then fitted to the top of the implant (the abutment), giving a natural look to your smile.

What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?

There are many advantages to dental implants, including:

  • Improved appearance. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. And because they are designed to fuse with bone, they become permanent.
  • Improved speech. With poor-fitting dentures, the teeth can slip within the mouth causing you to mumble or slur your words. Dental implants allow you to speak without the worry that teeth might slip.
  • Improved comfort. Because they become part of you, implants eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures.
  • Easier eating. Sliding dentures can make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain.
  • Improved self-esteem. Dental implants can give you back your smile and help you feel better about yourself.
  • Improved oral health. Dental implants don’t require reducing other teeth, as a tooth-supported bridge does. Because nearby teeth are not altered to support the implant, more of your teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health. Individual implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.
  • Durability. Implants are very durable and will last many years. With good care, many implants last a lifetime.
  • Convenience. Removable dentures are just that; removable. Dental implants eliminate the embarrassing inconvenience of removing dentures, as well as the need for messy adhesives to keep them in place.

When might a dental implant be needed?

If you have one or more teeth that are missing, having a dental implant might be an option for replacing the missing teeth. In general, a dental implant might be suitable if you:

  • have a fully grown, healthy jawbone
  • don’t have gum disease
  • don’t have conditions that affect bone healing

Your dentist will discuss with you whether a dental implant procedure is suitable for you.

What happens during a dental implant procedure?

A dental implant is usually done in stages over a few months, with a series of minor operations and tests.

  • You’ll need scans and x-rays to give the dentist a very clear picture of where to place the implant.
  • You’ll have a minor operation to have the dental implant put in your jawbone. You will usually be given an anesthetic so that you don’t feel pain during the surgery.
  • You wait for a few months while the bone grows around the dental implant.
  • Once the implant is stable, your dentist will create a foundation for your new tooth.
  • Sometime later, your dentist will take a mold of your mouth to make the artificial tooth or teeth.
  • Finally, the artificial tooth or teeth are screwed or cemented into the foundation.

It’s a slow process, with quite a few visits to the dentist and possibly some trips to have scans or x-rays done.

How Successful Are Dental Implants?

Success rates of dental implants vary, depending on where in the jaw the implants are placed but, in general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 98%. With proper care (see below), implants can last a lifetime

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