People are living longer than ever. While regular brushing, flossing, and check ups allow many of us to maintain our natural smiles for a lifetime, sometimes our teeth just can't keep up. If you have lost a tooth (or several) due to injury or disease, dental implants can rejuvenate both your smile and the function of your teeth.
An implant is a titanium post shaped much like a screw which is surgically placed into the jawbone. The implant must then heal and fuse with the bone. This is known as osseointegration. This can take 3 months for the lower jaw and 6 months for the upper jaw. Once osseointegration has taken place then the replacement tooth can be attached to the top of the fixture.
An ideal patient is a non-smoker in good health with adequate height and width of bone. The gum tissue should also be in good health. Implants can replace individual teeth or can be used in combination to replace multiple teeth. Implants can also be used to support and anchor a denture in an individual who has lost all of their teeth.
Implants vs Bridges
In many instances implants are preferable to a bridge when replacing a single tooth. In fabricating a conventional bridge the adjacent teeth to the open space are drilled to accept crowns which support the bridge. Placing an implant in the empty space on the other hand requires nothing to be done to the adjacent teeth.
Implants are expected to last many years, but they like natural teeth must be taken care of. Regular dental visits and home care are necessary to keep the bone and gums healthy.