What is a Dental Implant? Is It Right For Me?
Have you ever had the dream where one or more of your teeth fall out? What do you do if you lose a tooth in real life?
One option is to get a dental implant. This is a procedure where an oral surgeon or periodontist surgically places an artificial tooth that’s surgically fused in the jawbone—a fantastic long-term option for tooth replacement. Decades ago, if you lost a tooth, your choices were a fixed bridge or removable dentures. Fixed bridges rely on neighboring healthy teeth as anchors, which can have a negative impact on them down the road. And, removable dentures can slip or make embarrassing clicking sounds when you speak.
A dental implant—made of titanium metal—fuses to the jawbone, serving as the root of the missing tooth. Unlike fixed bridges, which may need to be replaced two and three times during a lifetime, implants are durable and rarely, if ever, need to be replaced.
Advantages of Implants:
They look good! Implants are aesthetically superior to bridges and dentures—they stay put and look like real teeth. You might even forget you ever lost a tooth!
They save adjacent teeth
Because implants don’t need to be anchored to the teeth next to them, they preserve the overall integrity of your healthy teeth. No more decay of otherwise sound teeth.
They build confidence
Remember when Aunt Mable’s dentures clicked when she spoke? Or when Grandpa Manny pulled his out to show his gummy smile? You laughed, right? But there’s something embarrassing about the noise and slippage of dentures. With implants, you know they will remain firmly in place for decades.
They are reliable
You don’t have to worry about misplacing implants, unlike dentures. And, unlike bridges, you won’t have to replace them many times.
It’s a Process: What to Expect
An implant procedure is not a quick one. Here’s what will happen:
• Complete dental exam. This may include X-rays and molds made of your mouth.
• Treatment plan. You will work closely with your dental provider to create a treatment plan. Before the procedure, your provider will take into consideration the number of teeth that need to be replaced and the condition of your jawbone. After the procedure, you will be instructed on how implant teeth should be cared for, which is essentially the same way as your regular teeth: brushing and flossing to avoid plaque.
• Procedure. Placing dental implants involves several surgical procedures, which all together can take three to nine months or more. It’s a lengthy journey, but much of the time is for healing and allowing new bone to grow in your jaw.
> The dental implant cylinder is placed in your jawbone.
> You will have a healing period of several months.
> Once healed, an abutment is placed, followed by an implant prosthesis or crown.
• Pain control during treatment. You will be given a form of anesthesia during the procedure (local or general anesthesia, or sedation. You should be sure that you have someone to take you home after the procedure.
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