What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is an artificial root surgically placed in the jaw to firmly hold a replacement tooth or a bridge. The dental implant functions as a real tooth. Traditionally, there are three parts to a dental implant: the implant, the abutment, and the crown. First, there is the implant; this is a titanium screw that is the root for the new tooth or teeth. This implant is a permanent insertion into the jawbone; it stimulates the nerves and the bones that help to maintain healthy jaws. The abutment is the permanent connector; it supports the replacement crown. The crown is the physical part of the whole dental implant that the patient (and everyone else) sees when the the person smiles. This part of the implant process is strong and usually made of porcelain; it’s designed so that the individual can – once again – bite confidently into an apple or an ear of corn.
Who performs the dental implant?
A wonderful alternative in tooth replacement, dental implants require the expertise of both a periodontist and a dentist. The strategic and safe placement of the replacement tooth root is, of course, done at the periodontist’s office and the crown (the tooth replacement) is done by an implant dentist at the dentist’s office.
Why get dental implants?
Aesthetic value. Replacing one or more missing or unhealthy tooth, dental implants can beautifully and naturally fill the unsightly spaces and gaps in a person’s smile. They improve a person’s confidence in social, personal, and professional situations; with a healthy smile, the individual can freely engage in conversations, laughter, and dining out without having to worry about hiding his/her mouth. People with nice smiles are perceived by others in a more positive light than an individual who hides his/her crooked, broken, or discolored teeth. Further, while it is important in life to be respected by and taken seriously by others, the perception one has of himself/herself is much more important. With dental implants, an individual can, once again, (or perhaps for the first time) feel confident and comfortable with himself/herself.
Function. Dental implants strengthen and enhance a person’s ability to chew. If teeth are missing, chipped, or unhealthy, it is difficult to eat many foods. Since each tooth in the mouth has its own specific function, having just one that is not working properly can negatively affect a person’s bite and ability to chew and enjoy foods.
Support. Dental implants are often used to both stabilize full upper or lower dentures and provide support for partial dentures.
Longevity. Dental implants are permanent solutions that last decades. While traditional dental bridges may last up to one decade until they need to be replaced, a dental implant can last well over 20 years.
Health. Although the aesthetic benefits of having a broken smile fixed by an implant dentist are countless, it is the health benefit that is perhaps the most important reason for an individual to consider dental implants. With a normal, healthy bite, many potential future dental issues can be avoided. When teeth are missing, not aligned properly, or are unhealthy, they can make it difficult for a person to chew the right foods that ensure a healthy, nutritious, and balanced diet.
Are there different types of dental implants?
There are three types of dental implants – each designed to meet specific needs of dental patients. The most common type of dental implant is the root-form dental implant; it is a type of screw, cylinder, or blade shaped just like the root of an actual tooth. This option works best for individuals who have lots of width and depth to their jawbone. This implant can hold one or more prosthetic teeth and is most often used as an alternative for patients with removable dentures or bridges. Another type of implant is the Plate Form Dental Implant. This option has a flat and long shape that fits best in a narrow jawbone. The third type of implant, the sub periosteal dental implant, is recommended when there is not enough width or height for one of the other two implants. This type of implant is customized to sit on top of the jawbone with the metal framework posts holding the prosthesis. This is a viable option for individuals who are not able to wear conventional dentures and/or who have limited bone height.
What is the dental implant procedure?
Just as each person’s mouth and dental needs are different, the procedure time and the healing time will differ for each person. For patients who are in good health and have an abundance of healthy jawbone tissue, a single-day procedure is sometimes an option. In this instance, both the implant and the crown are placed simultaneously during the same dental office visit. More common, however, is the dental implant procedure taking several months. After the implant is placed, time is needed to allow it to fuse to the patient’s jawbone. If bone grafting is involved, several months are often need to ensure it has healed properly. Once the implant is integrated for several months, the crown is then adhered to it.
The procedure is a team effort that involves the patient, the dentist, and the specialist – the periodontist. Once the individual meets with the team, he/she will be told where, how, and what type of implant is recommended. The procedure and treatment plan of action will then be customized to meet the goals and needs of the individual. Some procedures may require simply one implant and one crown; this is done when just a single tooth needs to be replaced. When several teeth need to be replaced, implant-supported bridges are often used. Further, an implant-supported full bridge or full denture can be used if all the teeth need to be replaced. Sometimes, some patients require sinus augmentation or ridge modification if there is insufficient bone quality in close proximity to the sinus or if there are deformities in the upper or lower jaw.
No matter what an individual’s particular circumstances are, 21st century dentistry enables everyone to have options, solutions, and resources to getting and maintaining a healthy, beautiful smile. With today’s technology, high-specialized and skilled dentists and periodontists, and so many wonderful avenues to identify and solve dental issues, there is no longer a viable reason for anyone to every have to hide his/her smile again. An implant dentist is often the integral member of the dental team that can provide the most doable, safe, and healthy solution.