Patients interested in replacing missing teeth with a fixed, permanent solution other than dentures are encouraged to ask about dental implants. Dental implants are fabricated to provide stability and strength to dental appliances as well as the replacement of single teeth. These restorations are typically fabricated from titanium metal and act as artificial tooth roots. They are placed during surgery into the upper and low jaw and are extremely natural-looking. These strong, durable, and stable restorations can last many decades, though they may occasionally require replacement or re-tightening due to normal “wear and tear.”
There are many reasons why patients may consider dental implants:
* Replacing a single tooth without affecting the surrounding teeth
* Improving joint or bite problems that are caused by shifting teeth after tooth loss
* Restoring confidence in a patient and their smile
* Restoring the ability to chew, speak, and digest efficiently
* Enhance or restore facial tissues
* For the support of dentures or bridges for a more secure and comfortable fit
The process of obtaining dental implants requires many visits to the dental office over several months. The first step is to take x-rays and dental molds of the jaw and teeth to decide if there is enough space, gum tissue, and bone for the placement of a dental implant. While the area is numbed, the implant is placed surgically into the bone and left to heal and integrate for approximately six months. Depending on the type of implant being placed, patients may require a separate surgery for the placement of the post or abutment used to hold the false tooth in place. Others have the post and anchor placed at the same time during the initial surgery.
Several weeks are allotted for the healing of the dental implants and the fabrication of the false teeth. This may require several fittings over time, typically one or two months. Once the area is successfully healed and ready for restoration, artificial teeth are attached to the implant and the process is complete.