What exactly is a dental implant? A dental implant is actually a metal post that is inserted where the root of your missing tooth was. A small extension, which is called an abutment, is placed on top of it and then a crown, which looks like a tooth, is placed on top of that. This gives you the look, feel, and function of a new tooth. It is a more stable alternative to bridgework or dentures.
Why Implants are Preferred
When dental implants are placed into your jawbone, the titanium in them fuses with it, so they won't make noise, slip, or cause damage to your jawbone the way dentures or bridgework might. They also won't decay over time like your real teeth supporting bridgework can.
Are you a Good Candidate for Dentures?
You could be ready for Dental Implants if:
- You have healthy gums
- You are an adult whose jawbone has stopped growing
- You have enough bone to secure implants, or are a candidate for a bone graft
- You have no health conditions that will interfere with healing
- You are able to devote several months to the process
Dental implants are performed in stages and are usually done on an outpatient basis. The procedure involves:
- Removal of your damaged tooth or teeth
- Preparation of your jawbone for surgery (If you need a bone graft, it will be done at this time.)
- Placement of the titanium post into your healed jawbone
- A second healing period that may take several months
- Placement of the abutment and crown
The entire process usually takes between three to nine months. Most of that time is due to healing and regrowth of new jawbone.
What if I Need a Bone Graft?
If your jawbone is too soft or not thick enough to support the implant, a bone graft is necessary. This is because chewing puts a lot of pressure on your jawbone. A bone graft creates a solid base for the implant.
If you have a missing tooth, or teeth, ask your dentist if dental implants might be the right choice for you. They provide both stability and heath benefits over getting dentures or bridges. While this procedure may take a few months to complete, it has some great benefits for patients in the long term.