Also called endosseous implants or just fixtures, dental implants are surgically implanted components that support a dental prosthesis such as an artificial tooth. They serve a number of roles in implanting bridges, dentures, artificial teeth, and facial prosthetics. While a variety of dental implants exist, the most common dental implants function as replacement tooth roots, implanted into the bone to provide a strong foundation for either fixed or removable replacement teeth.
Why Dental Implants?
While the procedure may sound a little daunting, you should remember that dental implants are a fairly routine procedure with a success rate around 98%. Your dentist can tell you more about your individual situation and prognosis, but dental implants are safe and reliable. They also offer a number of advantages over prosthetics like dentures, including the following:
- A more natural appearance. Dental implants look and feel like real teeth, removing some of the bulk of dentures.
- Improves speech and eating. It’s just easier to do both with dental implants—unlike dentures they’re as secure as real teeth and cannot slide out of place.
- Better oral health and durability. Unlike bridges or dentures, dental implants interact more naturally with your “real” teeth. This makes dental care easier and improves dental health, while also offering better durability. Dental implants properly cared for should last a lifetime.
- Better overall convenience. Dentures and denture adhesives can be messy and inconvenient, whereas dental implants are as easy to care for as real teeth and much less involved.
While dental implants aren’t for everyone—certain health conditions may preclude them for some patients—they are an effective alternative to dentures or other prosthetics for many people who need replacement teeth.
Getting Dental Implants
So, what’s the process of getting implants like? It varies from person to person—the first thing you dentists and oral surgeons will do is create an individual care plan. This involves an assessment of your needs, your dental health, and the best choices for this kind of oral surgery. Generally speaking they’ll then schedule a surgery, and under anesthesia the tooth root implant—essentially a small titanium screw—will be implanted into the bone socket of the missing tooth. This provides an anchor in the jaw for the artificial tooth. The implant must be allowed to heal and set in place before artificial teeth can be installed, which can take from six to 12 weeks. When your surgeon determines that the root implants have healed and set into the bone, they’ll schedule another surgery to install the abutment—a small connecting piece—and the artificial tooth to the implant. The artificial tooth will closely match the color, look, and feel of your natural tooth.
The good news is that most patients who receive dental implants report that there’s very little discomfort involved with the procedure—it’s certainly less painful than a tooth extraction! If some mild soreness results, your dentist may suggest that you take an over-the-counter pain medication to help treat it.
Caring for dental implants is easy—you treat them like you would your natural teeth. A daily brushing and flossing routine combined with regular dental checkups is generally all you need for a lifetime of health implants.
So, that leads us to one final question: are dental implants right for you? That’s something you and your dentist will have to decide; a lot depends on your individual situation and oral health. The first step is to make an appointment with the professionals at Queen City Dental Arts, who can assess your oral health situation and make suggestions as to the best course of treatment. Get in touch today and let’s take the steps you need for a better, healthier smile.