Dental implants represent one of the most important advances in periodontics. It offers patients with missing or extremely damaged teeth the opportunity to once again enjoy a fully functional bite. The most difficult aspect of tooth loss or severe oral damage is that it can significantly change the function of the mouth and the appearance of facial structures. Even the loss of a few teeth can cause a sagging appearance and give the appearance of advanced age.
Significant tooth loss also affects the ability to eat effectively with all its attendant problems. Dental implant replacements are the first step in filling in the areas of the mouth where facial tissue has begun to "sink." Recent advances in implant technology have made them extremely successful and they are often the ideal solution for a number of dental conditions.
The placement of a dental implant involves a series of visits. It starts with an initial consultation. At this point necessary x-rays are taken and often impressions of the teeth and gums are made. First it is necessary to ensure that a patient is a viable candidate for the procedure. This means examining the mouth and x-rays to evaluate the condition of the bone and other teeth. The actual surgical procedure begins with the preparation of the bone site for placement of the implant. The implant is a titanium metal fixture which acts as an anchor placed into the jawbone.
There it will serve as a substitute root for the artificial tooth which will later be installed. Once in place this implant needs three to four months to fully heal and integrate with the surrounding jawbone. This gives the surrounding bone enough time to form a strong bond with the implant material.
Patients are generally fitted with a temporary crown over the implant during the waiting time. This will facilitate eating and smiling during the healing process. Impressions of the teeth and gums are used to create a permanent crown (artificial tooth) which is fitted to the dental implant once it has healed. It is possible to do a single tooth or many depending on the need. The success rate for implants is now very high and many patients are finding it the best option for tooth replacement.