For some reason, or another you may have or may eventually be faced with the fact that you will lose a tooth. If this happens, it isn’t the end of the world. You have a few options when placed in this situation, but the latest and best solution is dental implants.
This is a procedure where an oral surgeon or periodontist surgically places an artificial tooth that’s surgically fused in the jawbone. This is a fantastic, long-term option for tooth replacement. Before implants, if you lost a tooth, your choices were extremely limited. Your choices were either a fixed bridge or removable dentures. Both have serious downfalls in comparison to implants. Fixed bridges rely on the teeth next to it as its anchors, which in turn can and will have a negative impact on those neighboring teeth in the future. Removable dentures can slip, or even make embarrassing clicking sounds when you speak or eat.
Dental implants are made of titanium metal and fuse to the jawbone, serving as the root of the missing tooth. Unlike fixed bridges, or removable dentures which may need to be replaces multiple times throughout your lifetime, implants are durable and rarely ever need to be replaced.
Some Advantages of Dental Implants:
- They look really good. They’re more aesthetically pleasing than bridges or dentures ever could be. They are fixed and will never move. You will probably forget you ever lost a tooth in the first place.
- They save neighboring teeth. Because implants don’t need to be anchored to the teeth next to them, thy preserve the overall integrity of your healthy teeth. No more unnecessary decay of surrounding healthy teeth.
- They help with your self image. Remember when Aunt Mable’s dentures clicked when she spoke? Or when Grandpa Manny pulled his out to show his gummy smile? You laughed, right? But there’s something embarrassing about the noise and slippage of dentures. With implants, you know they will remain firmly in place for decades.
- Implants are extremely reliable. You don’t have to worry about misplacing implants, unlike dentures. And, unlike bridges, you won’t have to replace them many times.
It’s a Process: What to Expect
An implant procedure is not a quick one. Here’s what will happen:
- Complete dental exam. This may include X-rays and molds made of your mouth.
- Treatment plan. You will work closely with your dental provider to create a treatment plan. Before the procedure, your provider will take into consideration the number of teeth that need to be replaced and the condition of your jawbone. After the procedure, you will be instructed on how implant teeth should be cared for, which is essentially the same way as your regular teeth: brushing and flossing to avoid plaque.
- Procedure. Placing dental implants involves several surgical procedures, which all together can take three to nine months or more. It’s a lengthy journey, but much of the time is for healing and allowing new bone to grow in your jaw.
- The dental implant cylinder is placed in your jawbone.
- You will have a healing period of several months.
- Once healed, an abutment is placed, followed by an implant prosthesis or crown.
- Pain control during treatment. You will be given a form of anesthesia during the procedure (local or general anesthesia, or sedation. You should be sure that you have someone to take you home after the procedure.