Dental implants are one of the biggest advances in dentistry in the past 40 years, says the American Dental Association’s (ADA) online Mouth Healthy article entitled, “Implants.” Implants are an effective way to replace missing teeth and they are made to blend in with your existing teeth. It is our goal at Boulevard Dental Associates to help you better understand what implants are, the benefits of them, and the implant procedure itself.
What are Implants?
An implant is a titanium rod or post that is placed in the jaw to replace a missing tooth. According to the above ADA article, dental implants are made up of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body. They are posts that are surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw, and they act as a root for the replacement tooth.
Advantages of Implants:
There are several advantages to using an implant compared to other options for tooth replacement. First, an implant can replace a single tooth without negatively impacting the health of the neighboring teeth. This is because an implant looks and functions like a natural tooth. For example, compared to a tooth-supported, fixed bridge (another option for the treatment of the loss of a single tooth), an implant does not require the nearby teeth to be ground down to provide support.
Second, an implant better preserves a tooth’s bone because it replaces the tooth’s root and integrates with the jawbone. This is in contrast to a bridge, in which some of the bone that surrounds the tooth can deteriorate over time.
Third, an implant can be more esthetic and easier to keep clean than a bridge. Resorbed bone beneath the bridge can negatively impact the smile. Furthermore, the cement holding the bridge in place can wash out; this could allow bacteria to decay the teeth that anchor the bridge.
The above ADA article, “Implants,” summarizes 3 main phases of an implant procedure:
- The dentist surgically places the implant into the jawbone. A diet of soft foods, cold foods, and warm soup may be recommended during the initial healing process.
- The bone around the implant heals in a process called osseointegration, and it is this process that makes the implant so strong. This is because the bone actually grows around the implant and holds it in place. This process can take time. Some patients may need to wait up to several months until the implant is completely integrated before replacement teeth can be attached to the implant. Other patients can have the implants and replacement teeth placed in the same visit.
- The artificial tooth/teeth are placed. For a single tooth implant, the dentist customizes a new tooth called a dental crown. For more than one tooth, custom-made bridges or dentures will be made to fit both your mouth and the implants.
Dental implants can be a wonderful option to replace missing teeth. If implants interest you, you will want to be evaluated by your dentist first. Your overall, general health will be a factor in the suitability of this option for you. Our own Dr. Medianick is a graduate of the Hands-On-Training Institute in Dental Implantology and was awarded a prestigious fellowship in the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, making him one of the few dentists certified to place implants. If your dentist is not certified to place implants, they can refer you to an oral surgeon who can perform this implant procedure.
American Dental Association. Implants. Mouth Healthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/i/implants. Accessed November 8, 2021.