Dental implants are excellent replacements for lost teeth. They look and feel like a person’s own teeth, are as strong or stronger than natural teeth and are not subject to the limitations of other forms of teeth replacement such as dentures.
A dental implant consists of three elements: a “root” which is made of titanium and permanently implanted into the jawbone. Then there is an abutment, which is placed atop the “root”, and lastly, there is the porcelain crown, which is placed on top of the abutment and gives the implant the appearance of a natural tooth.
Implants are increasingly popular and have many advantages over dentures or permanent bridges. Implants are permanent, whereas “permanent” bridges may need to be replaced once or more during a lifetime. Frequently, adjacent teeth need to be ground down in order to anchor a permanent bridge. With implants, the surrounding teeth are not affected.
Additionally, with dentures, jaw structure may deteriorate due to the lack of teeth, since the teeth help provide the foundation for a healthy jaw line. Since implants are directly affixed into the jaw, there are none of the undesirable side effects, like the clicking sound or the impediment to speech that dentures sometimes cause.
Implant placement is performed on an outpatient basis, usually in two phases. The first step is to install the titanium post along with smaller posts to keep the teeth properly aligned while the jaw heals and bonds to the posts. During this time, the teeth are being designed, and when the jaw has healed, an impression will be taken so that the crown can be secured.
The second step will be to anchor the abutment and the crown. The entire procedure takes approximately six to eight months.
If a person is healthy enough for routine dental work, they are most likely healthy enough for an implant; age is not a factor although implants are not usually performed on children. Many patients report a revitalized life after receiving dental implants. They are once again able to enjoy their favorite foods and activities and actually start to feel younger!