A surprising amount of people suffer tooth loss in their lifetime, from injury, tooth decay or gum disease. For many years, the only treatment options to replace missing teeth were dentures and bridges. Implants are a modern alternative to these traditional choices. Inserted into the jaw, implants are surgically placed replacement tooth roots, which provide a strong foundation for a natural looking artificial teeth. Not only chosen for aesthetics, implants also closely mimic the natural function of teeth. For these reasons and more, implants are the restoration of choice for
many people today.
Orthopedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånemark invented modern implants in 1952. Today, they can be used to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or a full set of teeth. Most dental implants are made from titanium. They are inserted into the jawbone and then left to fuse with the bone for six weeks or more. This anchors the implant securely to the jaw. Following the healing period, an artificial tooth or bridge can then be attached to the implant. The anchoring of the implant to the jaw in this way offers excellent individual stability.
The implants procedure starts with a comprehensive consultation, exam and x-rays. The quality and quantity of jawbone has to be assessed for suitability. The implantation of the metal post is the next step of the process. Depending on the condition of remaining teeth, the first stage of the surgery can often involve tooth or teeth extraction. A bone graft may also be needed to provide a solid base of bone for the implant. Following either (or both) of these procedures, healing time is required.
Once the jawbone is ready, the implants are placed with special equipment. Another healing period is then necessary, though a temporary denture can usually be made during this waiting time. Follow-up appointments are essential to check the surgical site for healing status and also for risk of infection. When fusion of the jaw and implant has occurred alongside adequate healing time, a component called an ‘abutment’ is attached to the implant using a screw. This holds the replacement tooth. Casts are then taken of the mouth to create the artificial teeth.
The success rate for dental implants is close to 98%. There are many other advantages to dental implants such as improved appearance, speech, comfort and self-esteem. Unlike other options, dental implants both look and feel like natural teeth allowing patients to talk and eat without issues. What’s more, they are also a permanent solution. Implants are durable and with good care, will last a lifetime. The fusion between jaw and implants allows for a comfortable fit.
Some patients considering implants are concerned about how painful the procedure is. Rest assured, the implantation is typically performed under local anaesthic and no pain should be felt during the process. Post-surgery discomfort will vary between patients, but mild soreness can be expected. This can usually be managed easily with over-the-counter pain medications.
The other concerns for people considering implants are usually the cost and/or suitability. Patients need to have good oral health and adequate bone to hold the implant. Every potential patient is individually evaluated for eligibility. In terms of cost, other teeth replacement options initially appear to be less expensive than implants. As mentioned previously however, implants are a long-term solution with predictable results and a high success rate. Most dental insurance policies do not cover the full implant procedure, but your dentist may be able to offer a payment plan to suit you.
Dental implants offer a reliable, comfortable and realistic looking replacement for missing or damaged teeth. With proper care and maintenance, implants can provide a solution to last a lifetime. The procedure may not be quick, but millions of people have found the results to be worth waiting for. If you have missing or damaged teeth, consider dental implants for a better look and feel today.