Missing a tooth, or need to get a tooth extracted? Dental implants are the gold standard in single-tooth replacement. Reliable, predictable, and long-lasting, dental implants are the next best thing to having your natural teeth.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root in the shape of a screw. This screw is typically made out of titanium and is implanted into the jawbone where the tooth used to be. Titanium is used because it’s both a durable material and biocompatible, so the body won’t reject it.
If the tooth is still in place and needs to be extracted, this is performed first.
Detailed 3D X-ray computer scans are taken of the jaw bone and the implant site is planned. This planning involves a mixture of computer-guided placement and input from the dentist or oral surgeon. Once the ideal implant site has been determined, the procedure begins.
The dental implant is inserted into the jaw according to the plan. The gum is then sewn shut over the surgical site and the bone is given time to fuse to the implant itself. This can take several weeks to several months. Once the bone has bonded around the implant, the gum is reopened and a prosthetic is attached to the implant.
A single tooth can be replaced by attaching a single crown to the implant. Multiple teeth can be replaced by using a bridge attached to the implant. Several implants can be used in conjunction to support part or all of a row of teeth.
Dental implants are the only dental restoration that replaces a tooth down to the root. When a tooth is extracted, it leaves a void in the jaw bone. Over time this void will collapse. This can cause teeth on either side to tip into the empty space, as well as deform the jaw bone. By filling out the cavity with a dental implant, you maintain bone shape and volume.
Dental implants also provide superior support for the prosthetics that are attached to them. Most dental restorations like bridges and partial dentures sit on top of teeth or gums. By anchoring these restorations to one or more implants instead, they become much sturdier and more reliable.
Dental implants are suitable for most people who are missing a permanent tooth. So long as you have sufficient bone volume and generally good health, you should be a candidate for implants.