A dental implant is the replacement of a missing tooth root. It is placed in the jaw bone and over a few months the bone grows and attaches to the dental implant. Once the area heals, an abutment and a crown are attached to the dental implant and the result is the most predictable, longest lasting replacement of a missing tooth.
While the base of the dental implant(s) remains the same, there are several different methods of replacing multiple missing teeth. In this situation, multiple implants need to be placed and tooth replacement options are fixed or removable. A fixed dental implant restoration replaces either a single tooth or multiple teeth, it is cemented on the implant, and cannot be removed by the patient. A removable dental implant restoration replaces all missing teeth and is removed by the patient. There are several factors that determine which treatment option is right for any given patient. This includes patient desires, patient’s oral health, amount and quality of jaw bone, and budget.
The most traditional options for teeth replacement procedures are crown and bridge treatments or full or partial dentures. These options address the short-term cosmetic problem of missing teeth, but do nothing to stop bone loss. Crown & Bridge also requires that two or more healthy teeth be ground down to serve as abutments (posts) for a bridge, leaving them at a much greater risk for cavities and endodontic failure. If the original abutment teeth fail, more healthy teeth must be sacrificed to serve as posts, while you continue to lose bone beneath the bridge.
With dental implants, however, the healthy teeth are left alone. Dental implants, like natural teeth, also transmit chewing forces to the jawbone, which reduces bone loss. This is why many leading dental organizations now recognize dental implants as the standard of care for tooth replacement.
Dental Implants can also be used to replace several teeth, eliminating the need to grind down healthy adjacent teeth to serve as posts for traditional Crown & Bridge therapy.
The dental implants are placed in the bone below the gum tissue. Like single tooth replacement, temporary abutments may be placed on the dental implants until the healing phase is complete.
Dental implants can be placed in most adults who are in good to moderate health. They are not typically placed in adolescents until they have reached their full expected physical maturity. Certain uncontrolled medical conditions may decrease the effectiveness of dental implant treatment, so be sure to discuss your full medical history with your dentist before beginning treatment.
Every patient is different and patient results may vary. Only a trained clinician can determine the best dental treatment plan for you. Please ask your dentist to explain the benefits and risks to see if tooth replacement with dental implants is right for you.
Even early civilizations recognized the benefit of tooth replacement. Archeologists have recovered ancient skulls where teeth were replaced by materials such as cast iron and carved sea shells. Despite primitive methods and materials, some of these early dental implants actually fused with the bone. This fusion is called osseointegration, and is necessary for dental implants to be successful.
Titanium dental implants have been placed extensively since the 1970s. Titanium offers the benefit of being lightweight and strong, and is not rejected by the body (biocompatible). It is the most widely used metal in orthopedic joint replacement and dental implants. Dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device.
Modern dental implants are precision devices, available in several different designs to address your specific needs. The most common dental implant is a titanium screw that is anchored into the jawbone where it serves as a post for a custom-made tooth crown. Once the crown is in place, you may not be able to tell it apart from your natural teeth.
A dental implant may be used to replace almost any missing tooth, provided there is adequate bone at the site. If not, modern procedures can usually be performed to regenerate enough bone to safely place a dental implant.
The dental implant is placed in the bone below the gum tissue. A temporary abutment may be placed on the implant until the healing phase is complete. A cosmetic temporary removable appliance “flipper” can be made to fill the missing space.
After healing, the abutment is attached to the dental implant. It will hold a custom-made crown that the dental laboratory will mold and match to your existing teeth.
In the final step, the custom crown is cemented onto the abutment. The tooth has been replaced without disturbing the healthy teeth next to it and bone loss has been eliminated.
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