Your teeth perform several vital functions. Not only do they allow you to eat your favorite foods, but they also help you speak and give you the confidence to smile wide. Unfortunately, people who are missing one or multiple teeth can’t always experience the same benefits that a healthy, beautiful smile provides. While many assume traditional dentures or bridges are the only option for replacing missing teeth, that’s not the case. Modern dental implants can provide permanent, subtle replacements for any number of missing teeth, and they’re much more versatile than you might think.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are surgically implanted into the jaw bone underneath the gums. Often called a post or frame, the artificial root can be made from different materials, such as zirconia or titanium, and replace one or multiple teeth, depending on the needs of the patient. The surrounding bone heals around the implant to provide a sturdy, reliable and permanent base for one or more replacement teeth, a bridge or even dentures.
After the post has been installed, an abutment is attached. Abutments can be fitted for the addition of a single crown, or synthetic tooth, a bridge or dentures. Crowns are generally permanent, and are designed to match the size and general appearance of neighboring teeth. If someone is missing all their teeth, several implants can be strategically placed on the jaw and an entire row of synthetic teeth can be attached to the abutments on a bridge or as dentures.
What Makes Dental Implants Versatile?
Dental implants are considered versatile because they can be used to replace one or all of a person’s teeth, or be used to stabilize dentures. Because traditional dentures are not fixed in place, they often slip or feel unstable,which can be an uncomfortable embarrassment for the wearer. Dental implants working in conjunction with dentures or on their own provide a stable, natural-looking, permanent replacement for as many teeth as needed.
Another benefit of dental implants is that no other teeth need to be prepared or altered. Some other tooth replacement treatments, like traditional bridges for example, require neighboring teeth to be ground down or prepared in some fashion. Dental implants do not affect or rely on neighboring teeth in any way and in most circumstances, last a lifetime.
Types of Dental Implants
Patients have the post implanted into the jawbone. It has the appearance of a small screw and is usually made from titanium. This is the most common type of dental implant.
If the patient’s jawbone cannot support the post, they can opt for a subperiosteal implant. Instead of just a post, a metal frame is placed under the gum and fixed on top of the jawbone. The post(s) are then attached to the frame and the tooth can be put in place.
After a typical dental implant procedure, a person must wait until the jawbone has healed completely and fused with the post before having a synthetic tooth attached. During an immediate load procedure, on the other hand, a temporary tooth is placed on the post the same day.
Mini dental implants
This type of dental implant is often used to stabilize dentures. They are smaller than traditional posts – about the size of a toothpick – so the procedure is less invasive.
Patients who need an entire row of teeth replaced may consider All-On-4. As its name suggests, four posts are implanted in the jawbone and a full row of natural-looking teeth is attached to the posts.
In cases where the jawbone isn’t dense enough to support a dental implant, several treatments can be used to improve the jawbone’s structure. These treatments include bone augmentation, a sinus lift, ridge expansion and implant site development. Your dentist will be able to recommend one of these treatments if necessary.
Who’s a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
The best dental implant candidates have healthy gums, sufficient jawbone density and are non-smokers. A dentist might not recommend dental implants for people who suffer from illnesses like diabetes or leukemia because these conditions slow the healing process considerably, which could prevent the post from remaining firmly in place.
Have More Questions About Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a popular procedure for many reasons. Their versatility as a tooth replacement option is one of the main reasons patients opt for dental implants over traditional bridges or dentures. If you have more questions about how dental implants can change your life, Family Dental Associates can help get the process started for you today! For more information about our single tooth or All-On-4 procedures, call (478) 971-7701 or visit us online.