A dental implant is a prosthetic device that serves as a replacement tooth root. Unlike bridges and dentures, dental implants are placed directly in the jaw, where they osseointegrate, or become a part of the jawbone. Dental implants provide a remarkably sturdy support structure for the replacement tooth and can strengthen the jawbone and reduce the risk of bone loss that often occurs after the loss of tooth.
Many people are missing one or more teeth, which can lead to self-consciousness, an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay, surrounding teeth drifting into the open space, difficulties eating and speaking, and other problems. Replacing the missing tooth can help prevent many of these issues. However, while traditional bridges and dentures can maintain the space and act as a cosmetic restoration, they often lack in functionality.
Although dental implants can significantly increase an individual’s oral health, not everyone will be a candidate for the procedure. Those who have uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure may require treatment before undergoing dental implant surgery. Smokers are more likely to suffer complications, and those who lack jawbone density may require additional procedures before they can undergo the implant procedure. Generally, however, anyone who is healthy enough to undergo dental surgery will also be healthy enough to undergo dental implant surgery.
The procedure begins with the implant being placed in the jawbone. Once it is placed, it will be covered and allowed to heal. Healing time can vary based on the individual and the type of implant used. Once the implant has sufficiently healed, the procedure will be completed with the addition of an abutment, upon which the crown or other permanent restoration will be placed. The implant should be brushed and flossed carefully along with your other teeth for best results.
Dental implants not only act as a cosmetic restoration but they also have the potential to dramatically improve your oral health. Because they integrate with the jawbone, they strengthen bone tissue and help preserve facial shape and appearance. Unlike bridges, they do not require extensive preparation of surrounding teeth, and unlike dentures, they are permanently affixed in the mouth. They look, feel, and function just like your own natural teeth.