What are dental implants?
Before the development of dental implants, dentures were the only alternative to replacing a missing tooth or teeth.
Implants are synthetic structures that are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by the root. Implants are anchored to the jawbone or metal framework on the bone and act as a foundation for an artificial tooth or permanent bridge. In some cases, implants can be used to attach dentures.
Benefits of implants:
- Cosmetic appearance. Dental implants are carefully crafted to look and feel natural in the wearer's mouth.
- Clear speech. With poor-fitting tooth replacements, wearers can develop unnatural speech patterns like lisps or slurred speech. Dental implants are less likely to cause this issue than other tooth replacements.
- Comfort and usability. Compares to dentures and bridges, implants provide wearers a natural feel that blends with the other teeth.
- Durability. Dentures and bridges are susceptible to shifting and causing discomfort while chewing. Often, dentures and bridges must be taken out before meals. This is not the case for implants, as they function just like normal teeth.
- Overall oral health care. Implants only affect the area where the damaged or missing tooth used to be, and are easily cleaned with daily oral hygiene.
- Convenience. Removable dentures are just that; removable. Dental implants eliminate the embarrassing inconvenience of removing dentures, as well as the need for messy adhesives to keep them in place.
Not everyone is a candidate for a dental implant, however. For a successful implant to take hold, a candidate must have proper bone density and have a strong immune system. In all cases, dental implants require strict oral hygiene.
Implants are so well designed that they mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Implants are usually made of a synthetic yet biocompatible material like metal or ceramic.
Surgery is necessary to prepare the area for an implant and place the implant in the mouth. Following the procedure, a period of time is required for the implant to take hold and for bone tissue to build up and anchor the device. In some cases, metal posts are inserted into the implant during a follow-up procedure to connect the tooth.
Because implants require surgery, patients are administered anesthesia and, if necessary, antibiotics to stave off infection following the procedure.
Like any restoration, implants require diligent oral hygiene and proper care to ensure they last a long time.