A dental implant most often takes the form of a small, screw-shaped titanium post that replaces the root-part of a missing tooth. The surgical procedure used to place an implant is minor, requiring only local anesthesia. After a healing period, the implant is topped with a lifelike crown, custom-made to match your existing teeth. Implants have a documented success rate of over 95%, which is significantly higher than any other tooth replacement option.
How Implants Work
During a minor surgical procedure, your dental implant is inserted directly into the jawbone in the space vacated by the missing tooth. It will then be left to heal for a few months before the final crown is attached. During this healing period, the implant actually fuses to the bone surrounding it.
Tooth Replacement Options Using Dental Implants
Single tooth replacements: When only one tooth is missing, a single implant is inserted into the bone to replace the root part of that tooth. A crown then goes on top to simulate an actual tooth. This treatment choice has the highest success rate, making it the best long-term investment for replacing a single missing tooth. Additionally, it’s the most cost effective option. An implant will never decay or need root canal treatment, and feels just like the tooth that was there.
Multiple tooth replacements: When more than one teeth are missing, dental implants are ideal. Implant teeth can act as supports for fixed bridgework. For example, if you are missing three teeth in a row, our cosmetic dental clinic can place two implants—one on both sides of the gap—and a crown in between the spot that has no implant underneath. That way, your teeth won’t be used as natural teeth as bridge supports, which could weaken them and make them more susceptible to decay.
Permanent replacements: Implants can support an entire arch of upper or lower replacement teeth that are fixed into the mouth and are never removed. Sometimes, the new teeth can be supported by as little as four implants. In cases where jawbone density and volume have deteriorated, 5 or 6 implants might be needed to support a row of 10 to 12 teeth. Dental implant replacement teeth protect your jawbone, won’t slip, and last for a very long time.
Support Removable Dentures: Implants can make removable dentures more comfortable, effective, and healthier. Traditional dentures rest on the gums and put pressure on the underlying bone. This accelerates bone loss so that the jaw shrinks and the dentures slip, particularly on the bottom. But today, dentists can attach a removable denture onto implants, transferring that pressure into the bone structure rather than the bone surface. This prevents the dentures from slipping while you eat and speak, and preserves the bone directly underneath.
Implant Care and Maintenance
There are two ways an implant can lose attachment to the bone and fail once it has successfully fused: poor oral hygiene or excessive biting forces. Poor oral hygiene and/or a lack of regular cleanings can lead to a destructive bacterial infection called peri-implantitis. Flossing and brushing your teeth on a daily basis, along with regular professional cleanings, can prevent this.
Excessive biting comes from either a habit of clenching or grinding your teeth, or an insufficient number of implants needed to handle the forces generated by your bite. If you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, we’ll probably recommend a nightguard. After all, implants are a long-term investment in your smile, your health, and your well-being, so it’s best to protect your investment.
Interested in learning more about implants and scheduling an appointment with our cosmetic dental clinic? Contact us today!