Dental implants are a permanent and appealing solution to replacing missing or extracted teeth. They are better than other alternatives such as bridges because there are no alterations needed to other teeth in order for the placement of a new tooth.
The entire implant process is performed over the course of a few months. The first part of the process is to install the implant itself. An incision is made in the gum so that the implant can be inserted. A screw (the implant) is then placed into the jaw bone, and the gums are then sutured. Multiple implants may be placed at the same time if necessary.
The implant must then be allowed at least 3 months to heal. During this time the jaw bone will form around the implant in a process called osseointegration. This healing period helps secure the implant so that it will remain in place even with the pressure of chewing. A cap is place on the implant to protect it, and you can also have a temporary flipper made if you wish to maintain the proper aesthetic appearance of your smile. The flipper is optional and usually depends on the area of the mouth the implant is needed. With this cap, it is safe to chew on the implant.
After the implant has healed it is time to place an abutment on the implant. The abutment serves as the base for your new tooth. Once this is placed an impression of the abutment is taken and sent to the dental lab. This impression is what the lab will use to create/shape your new tooth. Once the restoration is completed by the lab you can return to the office to attach this tooth permanently.
Reasons for an implant:
- Same strength of chewing as natural tooth.
- Can be used for as long as 10-30 years depending on care.
- Excellent esthetic function since they look and feel like natural teeth.
- Increases stability for a full denture.
- With an implant, you can feel the temperature and texture of foods.
- Implant placement makes the bone strong and prevents it the bone from being absorbed by the body.