A dental implant is actually a replacement for the root or roots of a tooth. Like tooth roots, dental implants are secured in the jawbone and are not visible once surgically placed. They are used to secure crowns (the parts of teeth seen in the mouth), bridgework or dentures by a variety of means. They are made of titanium, which is lightweight, strong and biocompatible, which means that it is not rejected by the body. Dental implants may be an option for people who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason. The benefit of using implants is that they don’t rely on neighboring teeth for support and they are permanent and stable.
Are you a candidate for dental implants?
The ideal candidate for a dental implant is in good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant, and the best candidates have healthy gum tissues that are free of periodontal disease.
How are dental implants placed and who places them?
First, a 3D CT scan is required to plan the implant placement and the design of the replacement teeth. This is done after the initial examination and, if needed, allows for temporary replacement teeth to be ready for you on the day of surgery.
On the day of the surgery, the implant (which looks like a screw or cylinder), is placed into your jaw. Over the next two to six months, the implant and the bone are allowed to bond together to form an anchor for your artificial tooth. During this time, a temporary tooth replacement option can be worn over the implant site.
Often, a second step of the procedure is necessary to uncover the implant and attach an extension. This temporary healing cap completes the foundation on which your new tooth will be placed. Your gums will be allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure.
It takes a dental team of 3 to assess and plan a dental implant placement and restoration. The dental team consists of a periodontist or an oral surgeon who performs the surgery, a restorative dentist who plans and places the tooth restorations and a dental laboratory technician who fabricates the restoration (crown, bridge, and denture).
What type of maintenance do dental implants require?
It is important to practice good daily oral hygiene; this includes brushing and flossing to control bacterial and tartar build up. It is also important to see your dentist and dental hygienist. Special instruments are necessary to clean dental implants that will not damage their metal surface beneath the gum tissues. Your dentist will need to monitor your implants to make sure the implant and surrounding bone is stable, and that the implant crowns, bridgework or dentures are functioning adequately.