Despite improvements in dental care, millions of Americans suffer tooth loss — mostly due to tooth decay, gingivitis (gum disease), or injury. For many years, the only treatment options available for people with missing teeth were bridges and dentures. But, today, dental implants are available.
Dental implants are replacement tooth roots. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed (permanent) or removable replacement teeth that are made to match your natural teeth.
There are many advantages to dental implants, including:
Success rates of dental implants vary, depending on where in the jaw the implants are placed but, in general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 98%. With proper care, implants can last a lifetime.
In most cases, anyone healthy enough to undergo a routine dental extraction or oral surgery can be considered for a dental implant. Patients should have healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant.
The first step in the dental implant process is the development of an individualized treatment plan.
Next, the tooth root implant, which is a small post made of titanium, is placed into the bone socket of the missing tooth. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implanted metal post, anchoring it securely in the jaw. The healing process can take from six to 12 weeks.
Once the implant has bonded to the jawbone, a small connector post — called an abutment — is attached to the post to securely hold the new tooth. To make the new tooth or teeth, your dentist makes impressions of your teeth, and creates a model of your bite (which captures all of your teeth, their type, and arrangement). The new tooth or teeth is based on this model. A replacement tooth, called a crown, is then attached to the abutment.
Instead of one or more individual crowns, some patients may have attachments placed on the implant that retain and support a removable denture.
Dental implants require the same care as real teeth, including brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups.
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