Before development of dental implants, bridges or dentures were the only alternative to replacing a missing tooth or teeth. Implants are synthetic structures that are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by the root. Implants are anchored to the jawbone or metal framework on the bone and act as a foundation for an artificial tooth or permanent bridge. In some cases, implants can be used to attach dentures.
Not everyone is a candidate for a dental implant. For a successful implant to take hold, a candidate must have proper bone density and have a strong immune system. In general, good candidates who have dental implants can expect high success rates with the procedure.
Implants are so well-designed, they mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Implants are usually made of titanium which is more readily accepted by the surrounding bone structure.
The procedure can take several visits. During the first visit, an anchor (the actual implant) is placed into the jawbone and the site is allowed to heal for several weeks or months. This gives your tissue time to grow around the implant to more firmly hold it in place. Once the site has sufficiently healed, a follow-up visit is required to place something called an abutment into the implant. An impression is then taken of the full upper and lower arch. The abutment provides the required "tooth structure" for the resulting crown to be fitted onto. The impressions taken are sent out to a separate lab where the porcelain crown will be made. The result is a beautiful and natural looking tooth that will help continue to maintain bone health in the mouth.
Types of implants
Various types of implants include full upper and lower, anterior, posterior, and single-tooth:
Tooth Replacement with Implants
- Missing tooth root is replaced with an implant, which remains covered under the gum line.
- A healing period of up to six months allows the implant to take.
- The implant is uncovered and an extension (abutment) is attached.
Replacement tooth (typically a porcelain crown) is affixed to the implant and extension.