Losing your teeth is an unfortunate experience, especially if you are young. The cosmetic and functional loss is great, depending on the location and number of teeth lost. There are several ways of replacing teeth including bridges and dentures. However, implants arguably offer the most robust solution.
How does it Work?
Dental implants bury into your jaw bone, much like the natural root of a tooth. When your tooth falls off, the alveolar bone around the lost tooth starts to waste away; dental implants prevent this. Using special titanium metal, the implant osseointegrates with the bone to provide a stable base on which an abutment and artificial tooth is planted.
How is it Done?
Before implant can be placed, proper examination is done. The bone around the tooth is assessed whether it is robust enough to bear the process. If the alveolar bone has wasted away, a skilled dentist is needed to restore it. This is why it is important to have your implants done as soon as possible.
Dental implants can be done in either three stages or a simple one stage surgery process. The choice is based largely on individual medical requirements, as well as preference. The first step of the three stage process involves placing the implant right in the jaw bone. The implant is buried underneath the gum, and afterward left to heal. The second stage involves attaching an abutment to the implant. This abutment forms the connection to the prosthetic tooth.
While it is possible to do the first two stages in one process, it is important to note that these parts need to osseointegrate with the bone properly. Adequate time is needed for the healing process to take place and the biochemical integration between the titanium metal and bone to take effect. This process can take up to a few months to properly heal. During this time, the abutment needs to be protected from chewing forces.
The third process involves shaping the prosthetic tooth and attaching it to the abutment. Before this happens, the implant is checked for healing and osseointegration. The shaping and adjustment of the tooth may take several visits to properly adjust.
In some cases, several teeth within the same area are missing. Implants can still be used to fix this. Here, instead of a single implant, several of them are arranged to create a bridge that covers the area with missing teeth. The bridge is secured by the fixed abutments on either side of the gap.
The whole process takes time: expect to make multiple visits over several months. Care must be taken while the implant and abutment are exposed. Also, the dentist must ensure proper osseointegration of the implant. Luckily, the success rate is over 90%. With a good dentist, you shouldn’t expect much fuss.
Caring for Your Implants
The beauty of implants is that they look and even act like natural teeth. Ensure that you brush and floss regularly, and maintain proper oral hygiene. Additionally, you should schedule regular checkups with your dentist, especially in the first few months.