Dental implants are designed to replace the root of a tooth and provide support for a replacement tooth. The implant is placed in the jaw bone, where it bonds with the bone in a process called osseointegration. This makes the implant strong and stable. It also stimulates bone growth in the area, which helps prevent the bone loss that can lead to loose or missing teeth. In addition to their cosmetic benefits, dental implants are more comfortable and convenient than traditional dentures.
When the dental implant procedure is performed by a dentist or oral surgeon who is experienced with the treatment, it is very safe. However, there are some conditions that make it a poor choice for some patients. If you have diabetes, heart disease, a history of radiation therapy to the head or neck, a bone disorder or take certain medications, you may not be able to receive a dental implant, or the implant may fail.
A dental implant is a surgically placed metal anchor that serves as an artificial tooth root. The anchor is attached to the jaw bone using a screw. A replacement tooth, or crown, is then attached to the anchor. The dental implant is designed to be permanent and will not require removal for cleaning or maintenance. Dental implants are very versatile and can be used to replace one or more teeth.
Before getting a dental implant, you should discuss the procedure with your dental professional. He or she will perform a model of your teeth to determine if the implant is the best solution for you. It is important to practice good oral hygiene and follow the post-op instructions your dental professional provides. You should avoid hard and sticky foods while the surgery site heals. You will likely need stitches, which will either self-dissolve or be removed by your dentist. If you are a smoker, your dentist will strongly urge you to quit smoking as it can affect the healing of the surgical site.
During the tooth implant procedure, you will be placed under local anesthesia. An incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the implant, which is then positioned into the bone. The bone is then covered with a healing cap, which is a small screw-like piece. The incision is then closed.
Some people choose to have the abutment (the piece where the replacement tooth will attach) attached to the implant metal post at the time the implant is placed. This eliminates the need for a second surgery and allows the abutment to be attached more quickly.
Once the implant is placed, it takes time for the bone to heal around it and form a solid foundation for a replacement tooth. Some people must wait for the implant to integrate fully, which can take up to nine months. In the meantime, they can use a removable denture or a bridge. The implant-supported replacement tooth is more natural in appearance and feel than conventional dentures, and it can be cleaned much like your other teeth.