Not only is it important to preserve teeth for good facial aesthetics and a nice smile, but also for function, or the ability to chew efficiently and without pain. Loss of teeth can result in tipping of the adjacent teeth, or over-eruption of the opposing teeth into the space. Also, the bone that surrounds the tooth dissolves after an extraction, usually causing gum recession on the adjacent teeth. When a tooth is removed, the resulting gap and bone loss can result in a less attractive appearance, sometimes causing the face to sink in, which can make people look older.
Dental implants are generally the best way to replace a missing tooth or multiple teeth. Implants are biocompatible titanium fixtures that mimic the tooth root. These are placed in the jawbone and fully integrate over three months to form a solid foundation on which to place a prosthetic tooth (an implant crown).
Once completed, implants look and function like normal teeth.
Implants do not require any drilling of the adjacent teeth and are the perfect alternative to dentures and bridges to replace missing teeth.
The Dental Implant Process
During your first visit, we will diagnose your need for a tooth implant. Generally speaking, if you have lost one or more teeth, then you will likely be a good candidate for a dental implant. However, there are some instances in which you may not be able to have an implant. If you have extensive periodontal disease or uncontrolled diabetes, you may not be suitable for the dental implant procedure.
During your first visit, we will carefully explain the entire process required for the insertion of a dental implant. If you are nervous about your next visit, we can discuss the use of sedation dentistry techniques.
If you are suitable to have the implant placed, the first step involves placing the titanium implant screw into the site where you have the missing tooth.
It is then left for around three months until the implant integrates into the bone. During this time, we can make you a temporary denture to replace your missing tooth, if you wish. After integration of the implant, a permanent crown is attached internally to the implant. Upon completion, the implant looks and functions like a normal tooth.
You will be given instructions on how to care for your implant, as long-term maintenance is critical to their success. In general, implants are very comfortable, and can greatly improve the smile, thereby increasing the patient’s self-confidence and quality of life.
When Can Implants Be Used?
The most common use for implants is for tooth replacement, where you have a gap in your mouth, including:
- Single tooth replacement: where just one tooth is missing, a single crown can be attached to one implant.
- Multiple teeth replacement: in this instance, multiple implants may need to be inserted, with either crowns or a bridge attached to the implants.
- Entire jaw replacement: where all of your teeth are missing, either on your upper or lower jaw, multiple implants may be used to fix your new prosthesis in place. As this work is more complex, it often involves referral to one of our prosthodontic specialists.