The loss of a tooth can have many consequences. In addition to affecting your appearance, remaining teeth can shift to close the gap left by the missing tooth. Your teeth can also become weaker because there are less teeth to use when eating. Tooth loss can also cause chewing difficulties, jaw problems and bone loss.
The bones that surround your teeth need to be stimulated in order to maintain their shape and density. This stimulation comes from your teeth. When you lose a tooth, the decrease in stimulation causes the bone to decrease in height and width.
The more teeth that are lost, the more oral problems you will have. Dental implants are one of the best ways to prevent these issues from occurring. A dental implant is a method of tooth replacement.
First, a small screw made of titanium (a lightweight, extremely strong metal that is corrosion-resistant) is placed into the jawbone. The screw becomes the roots for the new tooth.
Once implanted, the jawbone and screw fuse together. This stabilizes the area and prevents bone loss. The implant also keeps the jawbone’s shape and density intact, which supports other facial bones as well as the gums, cheeks and lips. The fusion process can take from two to six months to complete.
An abutment is also attached to hold the dental crown in place. Crowns are the parts of teeth that you see in a mouth. The dental crown used in a dental implant will be customized to match your other teeth. To keep it in place, the crown will either be cemented or screwed into the abutment.
When there is an inadequate amount of bone for the posts (or the bone is too soft) another surgical procedure called “bone grafting” may be necessary. Bone grafting involves the placement of new bone tissue in the implant area, where it regenerates.
Anyone who has lost a tooth is usually a good candidate for dental implants. However, there are certain health conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes that can prevent the screws from fusing with the bone. Smoking, alcoholism and advanced gum disease can also inhibit fusing.
If you have lost a tooth and are considering an implant, your dentist will conduct an assessment to determine if the procedure is right for you. Special x-rays, including in some cases 3D scans, will also be needed to determine the best location and position for the screws.
The dentist you choose will need information on your health and medical history, as well as any medications you are currently taking.
Your implant will look just like your natural teeth and even feel the same. They are taken care of like regular teeth with brushing and flossing. When you visit your dentist for a checkup, the implant will be cleaned with special instruments. If your dental implant becomes damaged, the crown can be removed and replaced. Unlike regular teeth, dental implants will not decay or require a root canal.
A dental implant will enable you to eat and chew normally, and smile with confidence. They also have the highest success rate of any type of implanted surgical device.