What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a titanium post that serves like a tooth root, surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath the gum line to allow the dentist to mount replacement teeth or a bridge. Unlike dentures, implants don’t come loose and feel more natural than conventional bridges or dentures. An advantage of implants is that no adjacent teeth need to be prepared or ground down to hold a new replacement tooth in place.
Why are implants needed?
The inability to eat and chew food due to lack of teeth has a profound impact on your weight, digestive system, and, in fact, the health of your entire body. Dental implants benefit patients who are missing one, several, or all their teeth. And obviously, they immeasurably help your smile. Implants lie within the jawbone, basically replacing the tooth’s root—lessening bone atrophy, which can lead to sagging facial skin. Also, replacing missing teeth keeps neighboring healthy teeth from shifting due to extra spacing, which affects your bite.
What can I expect about the procedure?
Generally, outpatient surgery, dental implants are conducted in a series of steps, beginning with the removal of your damaged tooth. Your jawbone is then prepared for surgery, a process that may involve bone grafting. After the jawbone heals, the dental implant metal post is inserted, followed by a healing period that may last several months. During this process, the jawbone grows into and unites with the surface of the dental implant, helping provide a solid base for your new artificial tooth—just as roots do for your natural teeth. Next, the abutment—an extension of the implant metal post—is placed (often at the same time the post is implanted). After the soft tissue heals, we make molds of your teeth and jawbone and later place the final tooth or teeth.