Dental implants are a popular and effective way to replace missing teeth. Over the last 40 years, vast improvements have been made in the way Americans are able to care for their oral health. However, despite these improvements, many people still find themselves wanting or needing to replace a tooth due to decay, periodontal disease, or injury.
For many years, the only options available for tooth replacement were dentures or bridges. Dentures have an unfortunate reputation of being uncomfortable, and bridges sometimes require healthy tooth structure to be removed. But today, dental implants are available.
Dental implants are an excellent long-term option to replace missing teeth and are designed to blend in with your existing teeth. Think of a dental implant like an artificial tooth root, holding a permanent or removable artificial tooth (usually called a crown) in place.
Dental implants are titanium posts (similar in size and shape to a screw) that are surgically placed into the jaw, where they serve as an anchor for replacement teeth. The bone around the implant heals through a process called osseointegration. Literally meaning “combines with the bone,” osseointegration allows the implant to become as strong as natural teeth because the bone actually grows around the implant to hold it in place.
Some patients may need to wait until the implant is completely integrated (up to several months) before the replacement teeth can be replaced. Other patients can have the implant and replacement teeth placed all in one visit.
Once the implant has been osseointegrated with the bone, the dentist will place the artificial tooth, called a dental crown. The crown is based on the size, shape, color, and fit of the original tooth, and will be designed to blend in with the other teeth. When the process is complete, patients will have a comfortable, stable replacement tooth that mimics the natural look and feel of their original natural tooth.
While there are alternatives to dental implants, most patients find that their implant is secure, stable, and a good replacement for their original tooth. There are many advantages to dental implants, including comfort, appearance, easier eating and speaking, convenience, improved oral health, and improved self-esteem.
While implants are a great option for many people, those with chronic illnesses may not be good candidates for implants. Tobacco users may have a slower healing time and increased risk of infection at the surgical site.
If you are considering your options for replacing a missing tooth, schedule an appointment today. We can help you find the best options to meet your need.