What is a Dental Implant?
If you are one of the many people in the United States who has lost teeth, or if you know you are facing tooth loss in the near future, then you have probably looked into possible ways of replacing them. It’s highly likely that dental implants will have been suggested as a solution and it’s often something we recommend to our patients here at McLoughlin Dental Care. This treatment is frequently regarded as being the gold standard for replacing missing teeth but understanding what is meant by a dental implant, let alone how it could help you can initially seem confusing. In fact, once you know a little about dental implants then the whole procedure should seem far less mysterious and really quite straightforward, and you will begin to realize why they can be such an excellent option.
A traditional dental implant consists of three separate parts which are the implant post, the abutment, and the restoration. An implant restoration can be a dental crown, bridge or even a denture.
Understanding the Different Parts That Make up a Dental Implant
The Implant Post
The first part of a dental implant treatment is the post which is made of medical-grade titanium alloy. It must be surgically placed into your jawbone which might initially sound a little scary but is quite a quick procedure. The implant post is designed to replace the natural root of the tooth which will have been removed when you lose a tooth.
This is the beauty of dental implant treatment because artificially restoring your tooth root with an implant post provides an extremely strong foundation for a replacement tooth as the titanium alloy post gradually bonds with your jawbone during a process called osseointegration. When the post bonds with your jawbone, new bone is created on and around the post so that once the process is completed the post will be fully integrated with the bone and cannot move even a fraction of an inch. There is another good reason for choosing dental implant treatment because artificially restoring your tooth root helps to keep the bone surrounding the implant post strong and healthy. When you lose a tooth, the bone that used to surround your tooth root is gradually resorbed, but an implant post prevents this from happening which is important for your dental health. Maintaining a strong and healthy jawbone helps to ensure your face retains the correct dimensions and it protects your remaining natural teeth.
The Implant Abutment
The next part of the implant is called an abutment, and this is designed to protrude just above your gums and is attached to the implant post. This is the part of the dental implant that will support the implant restoration. The exact type of abutment chosen depends on your final restoration because dental crowns and bridges are supported quite differently compared to a denture.
Your Implant Restoration
Your implant restoration will complete treatment and is obviously the most exciting part of this procedure because your smile will be fully restored. When just a single tooth is missing, you will need just a single dental implant that is used to support an implant crown. If you have multiple teeth missing on the same side of your mouth, then these can be restored with an implant-supported bridge and it’s not necessary to replace every single tooth with a dental implant. People who are missing complete arches of teeth can choose to have an implant-supported bridge or an implant-supported denture. Whereas crowns and bridges are firmly attached to dental implants, dentures are removable, clicking onto special abutments so they are held firmly in place. This does mean it is very easy to remove the denture for cleaning and maintenance.
Deciding Which Implant Treatment Will Work Best for You
There are several different types of dental implant treatments that can be used. The exact choice will depend on the number of teeth missing, the condition of your jawbone and your budget. During your initial consultation with Dr. Donald Nimz, all possible options for replacing your teeth with dental implants can be discussed in some detail. The choice for replacing single missing teeth or multiple teeth in the same area of your mouth is very straightforward, but options can become a little more complex if you require a complete arch of teeth.
One solution is to have a complete bridge of teeth which will restore up to twelve teeth in your upper or lower jaw, or in both arches. The bridge will be cemented or screwed onto your dental implant abutments and can only be removed by Dr. Nimz. This option normally requires quite a few dental implants, but the results can look and feel amazing.
Alternatively, an implant-supported denture will still restore a complete arch of teeth but is removable, clicking onto your dental implants or onto a bar fitted onto the implants. This option might be preferable if you have found it difficult to maintain good oral hygiene in the past as a removable appliance can be easier to care for. Generally, an implant-supported denture will require fewer dental implants, so treatment can be more cost-effective while still providing you with strong and stable teeth.
What to Expect If You Have a Dental Implant?
Quite often people are pleasantly surprised at the ease of treatment. Once Dr. Nimz has assessed your suitability for treatment and has carried out vital diagnostic tests, then the actual surgery is planned behind-the-scenes. Dr. Nimz will decide precisely where each dental implant should be placed before your appointment. This helps to ensure that the actual surgical procedure is quicker and smoother and that once the implants are in place they can be properly restored with teeth that are functional and comfortable and which should look great. Sanford Dental a dentist in Florida, talks about the benefit of dental implants, "Dental implants are changing the way people live, and with them, people are rediscovering the comfort and confidence to eat, speak, laugh and enjoy life."
Enormous care is taken when custom designing implant restorations so, for example, if you require an implant crown then it should look wonderfully natural and very like a real tooth. Larger restorations such as bridges and dentures are equally as carefully designed to provide you with a smile that is fully functional so that you should find it easy to bite, chew, talk, laugh, and smile with absolute confidence that your teeth look nice.