Are you considering dental implants to replace one or more teeth? Dental implants are a high quality dental prosthetic that can replace anywhere from a single tooth to all of the teeth in your mouth. If you think dental implants may be the right restoration option for you, this guide will tell you everything you need to know.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is surgically placed in the jaw. It is made of titanium and shaped like a screw with threads that help it fuse with the bone. The biocompatibility of the titanium allows it to bond with the bone tissue in a process called osseointegration. Once the bond is established it can last a lifetime. A single dental implant can replace one tooth by providing support for an artificial crown and multiple implants can provide support for larger prosthetics such as bridges and dentures.
Types of Dental Implant Restorations
Dental implants can replace missing teeth in a variety of ways:
- Single tooth replacement. A dental implant can replace a single tooth or a few teeth in your mouth that are not adjacent.
- Implant supported bridge. An implant supported bridge can replace two or more adjacent teeth.
- Implant supported dentures. Multiple implants can be placed in the jaw to support a partial or full denture.
- Mini dental implants. When there is not enough bone structure left in the jaw to support traditional implants, mini dental implants are an alternative option that require less space.
The Dental Implant Placement Process
The dental implant procedure typically involves the following steps:
- Consultation and evaluation. The first step in the process is a consultation and evaluation to discuss dental implants and determine if they are a viable option for you.
- Preparatory procedures. If you need to have teeth extracted or bone grafting to prepare your jaw to support dental implants, these procedures will need to be done prior to dental implant placement.
- Implant placement. The placement procedure will involve local anesthesia in most cases. Sedation is available for patients who would prefer it for their own comfort. The implant(s) are surgically placed in the jaw and the gum tissue is closed for healing.
- Attaching the abutment. A few months later, once the implant has had time to bond with the bone, the abutment can be attached, the post that will connect to the prosthetic.
- Fitting the prosthetic. The prosthetic (crown, bridge, or dentures) will be tried on for proper fit. Then the prosthetic will be attached to the abutment(s), either permanently or temporarily for removable dentures.
Recovery and Follow Up Care
After each step in the process you may need anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to recover. Your dentist will provide instructions for follow up care after each procedure. The following tips can be helpful:
- Eat a soft or liquid diet for the first few days following dental procedures.
- Take over the counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers to manage any discomfort.
- Avoid brushing and flossing in the area of your dental implants until your dentist says it is safe to do so.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants are considered to be the highest quality tooth replacement option in dentistry due to the following benefits:
- Natural look and function.
- Prevent bone loss.
- Low maintenance.
- Can last a lifetime.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Implants
Is a dental implant better than a bridge?
When it comes to replacing a single tooth, a dental implant is a much higher quality option than a bridge. A dental implant looks and functions more like a natural tooth and won’t damage the tooth structure of neighboring teeth. Dental bridges require permanent altering of the support teeth on each side of the missing tooth.
Are implant supported dentures better than traditional dentures?
Most people find implant supported dentures to function better, stay in place more securely, and feel more comfortable than traditional dentures. They also offer a natural appearance because they don’t require suction.