Do you feel self-conscious because you have missing teeth, or wear dentures that give you discomfort? Talk to your dentist to see if dental implants are an option for you.
What are Implants?
Dental implants are an increasingly popular and effective way to replace missing teeth and restore your smile. Implants are designed to blend in with your other teeth and look, feel, and work like natural teeth. They are an excellent long-term tooth replacement option. In fact, the development and use of implants represents a major advance in dentistry during the past 40 years. Dental implants consist of titanium and other materials that are inert, or inactive in the human body. These metals form the post that is surgically implanted in the upper or lower jaw, and functions as an anchor for the replacement tooth.
What is the Implant Procedure?
Most patients find that a dental implant is a secure and stable tooth replacement. There are generally three steps to getting an implant:
• First Step: Implantation
Your dentist surgically places the implant post into your jaw. You may find it more comfortable to adopt a temporary diet consisting of soft foods and warm soup while the implant site heals.
• Second Step: Osseointegration
During the heal phase, bone begins to form around the implant post in a process called osseointegration, a word that means “adheres to bone”. The bone formed during osseointegration holds the implant post firmly in place and is the reason implants are so strong and durable. Osseointegration takes time and some patients may need to wait until the implant is completely covered with bone–a process that can take several months–until beginning the next step.
• Third Step: Crown Placement
Once osseointegration is complete, the replacement tooth can be attached to the implant post. Some patients may be able to have both implants and replacement teeth placed all in one visit. Your dentist will form a new tooth for you, also called a dental crown. The crown will be designed to match the size, shape, and color of your other teeth. If you are having more than one implant, your dentist will form bridges or dentures made to fit your mouth and your implants.
How long does it take for the replacement teeth to be ready?
Replacement teeth can take a long time to make. While they are being made, your dentist may fit you with a temporary crown, bridge or denture so you are able to eat and speak normally until the permanent replacement is finished.