Losing teeth is a common (but unwelcome) by-product of aging, injuries, or illness. It is also very common to be born with one or more teeth missing. Thankfully there are now more ways than ever before to replace missing teeth. In addition to bridges and partial or complete dentures, many people opt for dental implants.
Dental implants are surgical devices which consist of a titanium root which is implanted into the jawbone, a crown which looks and acts like a real tooth, and an abutment which holds the two parts together.
Dental implants are by far the most natural looking and feeling option for replacing teeth. Unlike dentures they don’t slip, click, or require daily removal. Implants also help preserve the jaw bone structure, which can degrade resulting in a change of overall facial structure.
If you believe that you might benefit from a dental implant, then you should first consult your dentist or orthodontist. They will help determine if dental implants are right for you or will recommend a dental implant specialist nearby.
Once you decide to get a dental implant your dentist will run a series of preliminary tests and x-rays. Then the artificial root will be screwed into your jawbone. The root is made of titanium. Unlike other metals, bone will grow on titanium, and the healing process will form a natural bond with the implant, closely mimicking the root structure of a natural tooth. This process may take a number of months. An artificial tooth is then custom made to match your smile. Once the root is fused to your jawbone the connector is added, the implant is topped off with the prosthetic tooth.
For multiple missing teeth entire bridges can be implanted using the minimal number of implanted roots as necessary. Instead of a single tooth being added an entire bridge will be attached, holding a number of teeth in a line.
Dental implants are almost indiscernible from natural teeth in appearance and function. Regular checkups are crucial, especially immediately following surgery. Aside from extra vigilance you will brush and floss in much the same way as you would with regular teeth. Your dentist will instruct you on any special techniques or precautions that you may need to follow.
Dental implants are an effective solution for most people missing one or more teeth. However, they are not right for everyone. Young people with growing jaws should not get dental implants. Older patients must have enough gum and jawbone remaining. Those who don’t may not be able to use implants, or may require a bone graft. Regardless of how old you are you should always first inform your dentist about any pre-existing medical conditions.
If you are a fully grown adult, missing one or more teeth, and want a healthy, bright, natural smile, then dental implants are often an ideal choice.