When it comes to replacing one or more teeth in your mouth, a dental implant is often the treatment of choice and is also one of the most conservative treatments for tooth replacement. Implants are biocompatible posts that replace the roots of your missing teeth. They are physically and biologically designed to attach to your jaw bone and become the foundation for a natural looking restoration.
Before the introduction of dental implants, dentures were the only method for replacing missing teeth. However with today’s advanced technology, implants provide us with a more viable option. Dental implants are an excellent choice, as they are able to mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. They are synthetic structures, typically made of titanium, and are placed in the area once occupied by the tooth and root. Implants are anchored to the jawbone or metal framework of the bone and act as a foundation for an artificial tooth or permanent bridge. In some cases, implants are also used to attach dentures.
Implants are usually necessary after an injury or accident- when damage to the mouth and teeth is experienced. In some cases, they are necessary for certain types of cosmetic procedures as well. Not everyone is a suitable candidate for receiving dental implants. For an implant to be successful, one must have proper bone density and a strong immune system. However, in general, good candidates who receive dental implants can expect high success rates with the procedure.
Receiving implants generally requires several visits. During the first visit, an anchor is placed into the jawbone. The site is then allowed to heal for several weeks or months. This gives the tissue time to grow around the anchor in an effort to more firmly hold the denture structure in place. During a follow-up visit, an artificial, natural-looking tooth is then fitted over the implanted anchor.
The procedure steps for all types of dental implants generally go as follows:
- Missing tooth roots are replaced with implants, which are then covered by the gum line.
- A healing period of up to six months allows the implants to take.
- The implants are uncovered and extensions are attached.
- Replacement teeth are affixed to the implants and extensions.
Dental implant recovery depends on various factors, including the amount of work done and the type of procedure used during treatment. After the initial surgical procedure, discomfort should be minimal. Swelling of the gums and face sometimes occurs, as well as minor bleeding and bruising at the implant site. It is generally advised that once an implant is in place, diligent oral hygiene be maintained in order for proper fusing of the implant and bone structure to take effect.
Types of Implants Available Today
Currently, there are several types of implants available, including full upper, full lower, anterior, posterior, and single-tooth. Full upper replacements involve the upper set of teeth being replaced with implants. Full lower replacements involve the lower set of teeth being replaced with implants. Full lower replacements usually only require four to six implants (near the front), which are used to anchor the denture. This eliminates the need for denture adhesive. Anterior replacements involve using implants to replace the front teeth (also known as incisors and cupids). Posterior replacements involve using implants to replace the back teeth (also known as the bicuspids and molars). Single tooth replacements involve using an implant to replace a single tooth.
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