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How Do Dental Implants Work?

Of the numerous options for replacing missing teeth, dental implants are considered one of the best choices. No other tooth-replacement option offers a longer-lasting result. Dental implants also provide support to the existing bone structure that naturally deteriorates if teeth are missing.

What Are Dental Implants?

In most cases, a dental implant is a tiny, screw-shaped titanium post that takes the place of the root portion of the missing tooth. Although dental implants require a surgical procedure, it is a fairly minor, simple process, with the majority of cases only requiring local anesthesia. After a period of healing, a natural-looking, custom-made crown is created to top the implant and match your existing teeth. Dental implants boast a rate of success of 95 percent — far higher than any other current options for tooth replacement.

How Do Dental Implants Work?

As mentioned above, dental implants are installed during a minor surgical procedure. An implant gets inserted directly in the jawbone in the empty space left behind by the missing tooth. The area is left to heal for a period of around 4 to 6 months. During this time, the implant fuses to the surrounding bone as it heals. One healing is complete, the final crown gets attached.

Dental implants can be used in a variety of ways to replace missing teeth:

  • Replace A Single Tooth — When a single tooth is missing, a single implant can be used to take the place of the root part of the missing tooth. Then a crown is placed over the top to create the appearance of a natural tooth. This treatment option holds the strongest rate of success, making it an excellent investment for a long-term replacement for a single tooth. Although the initial cost may be a touch higher than other alternatives, it ends up being a more cost-effective option in the long run. Dental implants do not decay, feel just like a natural tooth, and do not require root canal treatment.
  • Replace Multiple Teeth — When multiple teeth are missing, dental implants provide an ideal replacement option. Dental implants do not even require an implant for each missing tooth. Rather, implants can act as a support for fixed bridgework. For instance, if numerous teeth in a row are missing, two implants can be placed on each side of the gap with a crown in between and no implant beneath it. This method ensures that the remaining teeth do not need to act as natural bridge support, which could cause them to become weaker and face an increased risk for decay over time.
  • Replace All Teeth — Dental implants can be used to support the entire upper arch or lower arch of fixed replacement teeth that remain in the mouth permanently. In some cases, as few or 4 implants can be used to support the new teeth. To visualize this, picture a table, which only requires 4 legs for support. In the event of a jawbone that has lost volume or density, 5 to 6 implants may be needed to act as support for 10 to 12 new teeth. Dental implants and replacement teeth help protect your jawbone, do not slip, and are meant to be a permanent solution.
  • Support Removable Dentures — Dental implants can also increase the comfort of removable dentures, making them more effective and healthier to use. Standard dentures sit directly on the gums and place pressure on the underlying bone. This pressure causes an acceleration of bone loss in the jaw and can cause the dentures to slip, especially on the bottom. Now, dentists can place a removable denture onto implants. This transfers the pressure into the structure of the bone rather than the surface of the bone. This prevents slippage during eating or speaking and helps preserve the underlying bone.

Care and Maintenance for Dental Implants

Since dental implants are an investment that is meant to last long-term, it’s important to know how to maintain them and protect your investment. Following are some of the most important requirements for caring for dental implants and maintaining their longevity:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene through regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups. Poor oral hygiene can result in a bacterial infection.
  • Be sure to avoid excessive biting forces from grinding or clenching your teeth. If you struggle with nighttime teeth grinding, consider getting a nightguard to protect your implants.

You can learn much more about our dental implants by visiting the Compass Dental implants page. Or learn how dental implants differ from dentures.