Dental Implants 101: Everything You Need to Know
It wasn’t that long ago when many people just assumed that dentures were going to be a part of their life. Whether the teeth were lost through accident, trauma, or decay, the most common solution was a dental appliance that may or may not have fit very well and required special care and interfered with eating your favorite foods.
Dental implants have changed that perception, and now this is the most common way to replace one or more teeth that have been lost. The results we get from implants provide the functionality you need and the appearance you want. More specifically, though, the advantages of dental implants include:
- Durability – Implants will last for years, probably even decades.
- Better appearance – The crowns will look just like your natural teeth.
- Better feeling – They also feel just like your other teeth.
- Improved comfort – Implants become a permanent part of your jaw, so you won’t have to deal with the discomfort that came with ill-fitting dentures.
- Better functionality – Implants function just like your other teeth, so you can eat your favorite foods, speak without slurring words, and smile with complete confidence.
- Simple maintenance – No messy adhesives to deal with, and you can clean them just like you would all your other teeth.
- Better oral health – There is no need to alter other teeth for an implant, and the added structural component of the titanium root means that the remaining teeth won’t start shifting.
How It Works
A dental implant has three components: the titanium root, the abutment, and the crown.
Titanium is used for the implant because it is completely biocompatible – which means that it won’t be rejected by the body or start to corrode. Also, because of a process called osseointegration, the bone in your jaw will actually begin to fuse to the titanium, creating a connection that is as strong as your natural roots.
The abutment is the connector that we place on top of the titanium, and then the crown will be specially crafted to fit your mouth and match the rest of your teeth.
The Technique Even Changed Dentures
Modern dentures may still be an option if you have lost several teeth, but these aren’t the same, troublesome appliances that were used decades ago. Now we use implant retained dentures. They work on the same principle, and we use several titanium implants to secure the custom dentures in place so you can easily keep speaking and eating without the dentures slipping out of place.
Who Is a Candidate?
Most people who lose a tooth are candidates for a dental implant. The only real qualifications is that you will need to have some healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant in place. That last qualification, though, can be met with a bone graft if necessary.
There are also some medical conditions that may create some problems. If you have uncontrolled diabetes or cancer, then you may not be a candidate for this procedure. Heavy smokers and drinkers may also require special treatment, and uncontrolled periodontal disease will have to be addressed first, because they can all affect the way that bones fuse to the titanium.
An implant will take time to heal, and it doesn’t happen all at once. After we implant the titanium root, it can take anywhere from six to 12 weeks to fully heal. Once the bone has fused to the metal, though, we can quickly place the abutment and crown.
Most people report that there is less discomfort throughout the process than is expected, and most of the soreness can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain medication.
Taking Care of the Implant
Now that your new tooth is in place, you will need to care for it like you would the rest of your teeth. While they won’t decay like natural teeth, they can harbor the same bacteria. Oral hygiene is just as important as it always was, so make sure you keep them clean and get regular checkups to make sure everything is still looking good.