When it comes to restoring the look and function of missing or decayed teeth, temporary dentures can only solve so much. Dentures don’t always replicate the look of natural teeth, and patients who use dentures often struggle to eat or speak comfortably. However, when you choose dental implants, you invest in a solution that is a better long-term value, and a great way to find confidence in your smile again.
So what are dental implants? A dental implant consists of a titanium screw that replaces the patient’s natural root, a crown to take the place of the tooth, and an abutment to secure the two pieces. A dentist or oral surgeon places a dental implant in the jawbone, then fuses that to the bone tissue to create the tooth replacement.
What does dental implant surgery involve? First, depending on the state of a patient’s oral health, you may have one or more teeth extracted if they are not already missing, or your dentist will perform bone grafting. Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that uses transplanted bone to repair damaged bone in your jaw.
Once the jawbone is ready, the dentist will make an incision into the patient’s gum, drill into the bone and place the titanium dental implant. At this stage, the dentist has not placed the abutment and crown. The patient will then allow time for osseointegration or the fusion of the implants to the bone. During this time, you can use a temporary denture to cover the exposed implant.
Once the implants are fused to the bone, the patient will visit the dentist again for the placement of the abutment. To set the abutment, the dentist will open the patient’s gum back up, connect the abutment to the now exposed dental implant, and close the surrounding gum tissue around the piece. After this, it takes about two weeks for the gum tissue to heal and the jawbone to strengthen. Then, the patient is ready to see the dentist for the placement of the dental implant.
Following surgery, it is critical that patients maintain their results just as they would care for natural teeth. This should involve brushing twice a day and regular flossing. Patients should also continue to see their dentists for regular cleanings and any necessary implant maintenance. With proper care, dental implants can provide years of healthy function.