Dental Implants

Dental implants have been in use for more than 60 years. They were first used by a Swedish orthopedic surgeon. Since that time, they have become the preferred method for replacing missing teeth. The dental implant is designed to replace the root of the tooth. The implant actually becomes part of the jaw bone and mimics the way that natural tooth works.

There are many who would benefit from dental implants. In order to do that, they need to know when an implant is helpful, how the implant procedure works and what to expect after the implant is done.

When to Get an Implant

Candidates for implants will have one or more missing teeth. The implant can be used to restore the function of the missing teeth and the look of the missing teeth. Dental implants are often used instead of dentures or dental bridges. The dental implant will more closely mimic a real tooth than the other procedures.

Dental implants can be used to replace teeth that have been lost due to accident or disease. People who are considering dental implants need to take into account the location of the missing teeth, the health of the gums and jawbone, along with the overall health of the patient, the personal preference and the cost of implants.

The cost of implants is going down, but it is still more expensive than bridges and dental appliances. The good thing about implants is when they are properly cared for, they can last as long as a natural tooth.

The Procedure

Getting a dental implant is a process that will involve several visits to the dentist. It is considered to be a surgical procedure. It is performed by oral surgeons and dentists that have the training and the equipment necessary for the procedure.

The first step of the implant is prepare the gums and bone for the implant. This involves drilling a hole in the bone where the missing tooth is. The implant piece is then screwed into the bone socket. The implant is typically made of titanium. At this point, the implant is allowed to heal. During the healing process the jawbone will heal around the implant. This will hold the implant in place securely. That healing process can take as long as 12 weeks.

After the healing is completed, the implant is fitted with a small post. This post will hold the new tooth in place. The new tooth (or crown) can be made of many different materials and it can be textured and colored to match the natural teeth. The tooth is custom made for each person based on impressions the dentist has made of the patient’s teeth. Once the post is securely in place, the new tooth can be fitted on top. The teeth that are put onto the implants can be secured permanently or they can be set up to be removed when desired.

After the Implant

Eventually the implant will be as strong as the natural teeth are. The key to this process is to give it time to work. Bone heals very slowly, so rushing the implant will jeopardize its function. The procedure can sometimes be painful, but that is usually managed with the help of prescription and over the counter pain medications. The care of the implanted tooth is the same as the care for natural teeth. It needs to be brushed and flossed. A professional cleaning should be done two times a year and comprehensive exam one time each year. That should make the implant a happy and healthy replacement tooth.