The newest method in dentistry used to replace missing or extracted teeth is a procedure called dental implants. Dental implants consist of three key components – a screw-like piece of metal that is referred to as an anchor is first inserted into the jawbone, then a crown that acts as a replacement tooth is placed on top of the anchor, and finally, an abutment is used to secure the two together.
The anchor is made of very tough and durable materials called titanium and zirconia. Once the implant is inserted into your jaw, a process called osseointegration takes place where the bone that surrounds the implant begins to fuse to the anchor which strengthens it even further. It is not until this has happened that the replacement tooth will be fitted, but once in place, your new implant will be as secure as a regular tooth. Implants also help preserve facial structure, preventing the bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
Dental implants are created uniquely to fit the specific requirements of the patient and as such, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ cost. While they may seem like an expensive option at first, over time implants are usually a more cost-effective and reliable solution to missing teeth.
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Dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device at around 98%. However, a robust oral hygiene routine is crucial to ensuring their results for the long term.
For many people, the idea of having a metal screw inserted into their jaw is absolutely terrifying. However, since anesthesia is used during the procedure, you shouldn’t feel any pain. Some swelling and soreness afterward is fairly common, but over-the-counter pain relief is normally sufficient to alleviate any discomfort and these symptoms will usually dissipate by the next day.
If you have a single tooth missing, then you will need an implant to support it. However, if you have multiple teeth missing, it is possible for two or more implants to support more than one tooth each in what is known as an implant-supported bridge. Your dentist will be able to advise you if this is a viable option for your personal dental requirements.
The length of the treatment depends on the extent of the work that is needed, but you can expect to make several visits to your dentist’s office over the course of a six-month period. Your dentist will be able to give you a more accurate treatment timeline based on your personal dental requirements.
Although dental implants have an extremely high success rate, that does not mean that they are right for every patient. If you are considering dental implants, you will need to have a consultation with your dentist who will assess your candidacy based on your individual health and dental requirements. The ideal candidate will:
Have great general and oral health
Have sufficient bone in their jaw to support the implant
Have healthy gums
Be committed to taking very good care of their teeth and gums
People who may not be suitable candidates for implants include:
Young people whose jawbones are still developing
Those with immune conditions
Those with uncontrolled diabetes
Alcohol or substance abusers
People who have received a high dose of radiation to the head or neck
(for example, radiotherapy for cancer)
People who have a suppressed immune system