What are dental implants?
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are widely recognized as one of the best replacements for natural teeth. They consist of three components. The first component is the implant itself, the titanium post that is placed into the jaw by your oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
The implant effectively replaces the root portion of the tooth, or teeth, that are missing and provides a platform for your dentist to build your new restoration (crown, bridge or denture). The second component is the abutment, which attaches the new restoration to the implant. The last component is the final restoration itself, which is made by your general dentist.
Why dental implants?
Dental implants provide many benefits over other restorative techniques. Unlike a traditional bridge, other teeth do not need to be shaved down to replace a missing tooth. Implants can provide a nonremovable solution, therefore, that don’t damage or stress other teeth.
Implants can also be more hygienic and easier to maintain than other types of restorations. Another consideration is that when you lose a tooth, the remaining jawbone can also shrink, or atrophy, over time. Implants can help preserve this bone and improve the long-term function and aesthetics of your smile. Dental implants generally outlast other replacement options and can provide patients a lifetime of function.
What does getting a dental implant entail?
After seeing your dentist, the first step in the implant process is the consultation with your oral and maxillofacial surgeon. At this appointment, we will review your medical and dental histories, obtain imaging, and perform a clinical examination. We will then discuss your treatment options so that together we can formulate a plan that fits your needs and meets your goals.
We will also discuss what anesthetic options would make the treatment easiest for you. If required, the next step is the extraction of the tooth, or teeth. Often, the implant can be placed at the same time as the extraction. If this is not possible, you may require 3-4 months for healing prior to implant placement.
Occasionally, you may not have enough bone to stabilize an implant. If this is your situation, we will discuss a variety of grafting techniques and decide on what would work best for your situation. Once an implant is placed, it generally requires 2-4 months to allow it to “osseointegrate” or fuse to the bone. After this time, we will have you return to your general dentist who will connect the final restoration to your implant.
Now that I have an implant, how do I care for it?
Your dental implant requires care just like your natural teeth do. Brushing and flossing regularly is necessary as well as routine dental hygiene visits. If you grind your teeth at night, a nightguard will be useful to prevent unnecessary forces on your new dental implant.