Implants are a state-of-the-art replacement for missing teeth. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth — the crown — in place. The implant emulates the shape of the root and is usually made of titanium and other materials that are well-suited to the human body. The implant is surgically placed into the jaw and incorporates into the bone over time to become a stable base for crowns. Dental implants have been used for several decades by patients of all ages. They can replace a single tooth, several teeth or support partial or full dentures.
What’s involved in placing an implant?
The way implants are placed depends on the patient, the type of implant and the tooth being replaced. Some implants can be fully placed in one day. Most implants involve two or three steps. First, the implant is placed into the jaw and the gum is secured over the implant. Over the next three to six months the implant will fuse with the jaw bone. Once the implant and bone have bonded together, the dentist or specialist may attach an extension, called an abutment, to the implant. In some cases, the implant and abutment are a single unit placed during the initial surgery. In others, a second surgery may be needed to attach the abutment to the replacement teeth. Once healed, the implant and abutment act as the foundation for the new tooth. In the final step, the dentist or specialist makes a crown in the right size, shape, and color to match your natural teeth. The crown is attached to the implant post.
Dental implants provide a good alternative for the natural tooth when it must be extracted. Candidates for implants should have good general and oral health, adequate bone support in the jaw and healthy gum tissues. Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or leukemia, may interfere with healing after surgery and prevent successful placement of an implant. Other risk factors for implant placement can include smoking, poor bone quality, long-term use of bisphosphonate medications and low estrogen levels.
Replacing a missing or diseased tooth with an implant has several advantages:
- Natural appearance
- Don’t require dental procedures on neighboring teeth
Though nothing looks, feels or functions exactly like your natural tooth, dental implants are a viable alternative to help you maintain a beautiful smile.