Losing a permanent tooth can impact your life in multiple ways. A missing tooth can make people self-conscious, and lead to a series of other oral health problems. With dental implants, your teeth will look, function, and feel as natural as the original.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is essentially a replacement tooth held in place by an artificial root, which is implanted into your jaw bone. It is generally regarded as the best solution for replacing a lost tooth or teeth, as it provides the function, reliability and aesthetics of the original tooth without affecting your lifestyle, diet, and speech.
Dental implants are sometimes regarded as a cosmetic dental procedure, however they offer more than an improved look. Dental implants are far superior to traditional dentures and partial dentures in nearly every way.
Benefits to dental implants
- Aesthetics. Dental implants look indistinguishable from natural teeth.
- Improved lifestyle. Dental implants do not require any additional care or cleaning than your natural teeth. Because they are permanently fixed, you don’t need to worry about them falling out, or impairing your speech. That means you’re free to eat what you want, and have confidence in your smile.
- Improved comfort. Dental implants are far superior to other options in terms of comfort. Unlike dentures or partial dentures, dental implants do not move around or fall out of your mouth. They will feel and function as the original tooth.
- Reliability and convenience. If you’re a good candidate, dental implants are one of the most predictably successful dental procedures. Once the implant has been placed, they fuse with the bone, and become as reliable as your natural teeth. With proper oral hygiene practices, a dental implant can last a lifetime.
- Oral health. Dental implants do not usually require modification or adjustment of any other teeth. They are typically regarded as the best long term option for long term oral health.
Disadvantages of dental implants
- Requires at least three visits. For most patients, this will require consultations, some surgical work, and the placement of the implant. The surgical portion can cause some swelling and bruising for several days after the visit. While not exactly a comfortable experience, it is usually no worse than a tooth extraction.
- Cost. The cost of dental implants is more than other treatments, but it is generally regarded as a good investment in your health and wellbeing.
How does a dental implant work?
Step 1 – Consultation and treatment plan
Set up an appointment with your dentist and ask them if you are a good candidate for a dental implant. They will conduct an examination of your mouth, and determine if a dental implant would be an option available to you. They will then present a treatment plan that outlines the process, and includes financial estimates for the work to be done.
Step 2 – Tooth root implant
This is the surgical portion of the process. A small titanium post is implanted into the bone socket of the missing tooth. Within 6-12 weeks, the jaw will have fused around the post, and made a secure point to anchor the replacement tooth or denture.
Step 3 – Abutment and Crown
After the post has fully bonded to the jaw bone, a connector, called an abutment is attached to the post, and then your new tooth (a crown) is placed on the abutment. In some cases, you can use the implant to support other restorations such as a removable denture, or bridge.
Return for regular checkups
Although there is a high success rate, you’ll want to be sure to have regular check ups to make sure that there are no complications with the implant.
Do’s and Don’ts of Dental Implants
- Do Read the pre-operative and post-operative instructions carefully. Knowing what to expect and how to care for your mouth after the treatment can ensure a smooth, successful recovery.
- Do take prescribed medication. You may be asked to take antibiotics before your treatment. If you’re having your treatment under oral sedation, follow the instructions closely to ensure a
- Do Ask if you have any questions about the procedure, or post operative care.
- Do arrange transportation to and from the procedure if you are being sedated.
- Do plan to eat soft foods for a few days after the surgery.
- Don’t eat the day of your procedure (if you’re being sedated).
- Don’t smoke the day of your procedure, and continue to abstain from smoking at least three days after the surgical procedure and placement of the implant.