Everything You Need To Know About Implants
A healthy smile increases confidence, contributes to good health, and makes it easier to speak or chew. Unfortunately, the average adult between the ages of 20 and 64 has at least three decayed or missing teeth. In the past, crowns, bridges, or dentures were the only options, but the latest dental implants offer a solution that works and looks like the original teeth.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial device that substitutes for a missing tooth. It usually consists of three parts:
• An implant, or titanium device surgically embedded in the jawbone
• An abutment that screws into the base
• A replacement tooth that goes on top of the abutment
There are two kinds of implants: endosteal and subperiosteal. An endosteal implant, one that is placed in the bone, is most common. A subperiosteal is placed on the bone and used mostly for people who have bone loss or are unable to wear dentures.
What are the Advantages of Implants?
The American Academy of Implant Dentistry says three million Americans have implants, and the success rate in scientific literature is a whopping 98 percent. Here are some of the reasons people choose implants over crowns and bridges:
• Healthier gums and smile
• Ability to easily speak or chew
• Stability comparable to natural teeth
• Cleaned in the same way as natural teeth
• No change to jawline or facial features
• No support from other teeth, as in a bridge
• No tooth structure lost, as in a crown
Who Can Have Dental Implants?
The American Academy of Periodontists lists three requirements for successful dental implants: good overall health, adequate bone structure to support the implant, and healthy gums. At the same time, implants may also improve health by reducing inflammation, improving nutrition, and increasing confidence. A good dental surgeon can advise individuals about appropriate procedures for specific situations. Some studies, for example, showed that smokers face a higher risk of dental implant failure.
What Are the Steps to a Dental Implant?
Before the process can take place, an oral surgeon does a general evaluation, explains the procedure, discusses the pros and cons, and ask questions about general health. If the original tooth is not missing, the surgeon will extract it and evaluate the gum to see if a bone graft is necessary. When the gum is healthy, the implant process can begin.
What Happens During the Implant?
The surgical procedure is done under local anesthesia in an office setting. Some pain and swelling are normal, but medication is prescribed to help with the discomfort. After the surgery, doctors recommend a soft diet of cold or lukewarm foods for a few days.
What Happens after the Implant?
For the next two to six months, the bone and the implant fuse together in a process called osseointegration. The dentist may provide a temporary crown while the gum is healing. During healing, gum tissue sometimes grows over the implant. If so, the dentist will uncover the abutment and prepare for the permanent tooth. Next, impressions are made and sent to the lab to ensure a good fit. Then, the new tooth is connected to the implant.
Do Implants Require Special Care?
The good news is that implants look, feel, and work just like real teeth. With regular dental care and good oral hygiene, they should last a lifetime. As with natural teeth, flossing and brushing help to keep the implants clean and the gums healthy.