Dental implants are tooth restorations that can replace missing teeth. When a tooth is lost, the neighbouring teeth move to fill the gap, causing an array of dental issues, such as problems with one’s bite, unusual speech patterns, and shifting teeth. Implants not only restore functionality and aesthetics but can also improve oral health by aiding in jawbone health. But exactly what are dental implants, and how do they work? Get a free consultation at your local dental clinic to find out more, but first, here’s the lowdown.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are made from titanium, an incredibly sturdy metal that is biocompatible with the human body—which means it is not toxic or harmful to living tissue. The dental implant post acts as a synthetic tooth root and is surgically inserted into the upper or lower jaw to replace a missing tooth.
Once implanted in the jawbone, a dental implant will fuse with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration to form a strong foundation that can support an artificial replacement tooth or crown. Multiple implants can support a row of missing teeth with a dental bridge and even a complete set of teeth on either the upper and lower arch (or both).
Advantages of dental implants
So, what are dental implants’ advantages over other restorative options? In a nutshell:
- Implants look, act and feel like natural teeth.
- Comfortable – unlike dentures that may rub or slip, a dental implant feels like a natural tooth and will not move.
- Eat any food you like without worrying the implants will fall out
- Improves your appearance—not just because gaps are unsightly, but also because they prevent bone loss in the jawbone that can cause a sunken appearance around the mouth.
- Durable. If you look after your implants properly, they can last for decades, if not a lifetime.
- Permanent fixture. Unlike dentures, which must be removed, implants are permanently fixed and do not require special attention—just cleaning and flossing twice daily—like natural teeth!
What is the procedure for dental implants?
1. The first step in the dental implant process is to schedule an appointment with a dentist that offers free consultation appointments for an assessment. A bespoke plan is made for your implant procedure if you are suitable. The plan is tailored to you to ensure it meets your specific health, functional, aesthetic and budgetary requirements. Impressions of your mouth are taken and sent to a lab where your new custom-made tooth is manufactured.
2. Next, the tooth root implant, a small titanium post, is inserted into the space left by the missing tooth during a surgical procedure that takes around 20 minutes per implant. The area is left to heal after the surgery, during which time the jawbone fuses with the implant. This typically takes 4-6 months.
3. Once the dental implant attaches to the jawbone, a small connector – the abutment – is attached to the post. An artificial tooth (crown) is placed on top to complete the dental implant procedure.
Can anyone have dental implants?
In most cases, if you are healthy enough to undergo minor surgery, you will likely be a good candidate. You must have healthy gums and a plentiful supply of dense, healthy bone in the jaw to be suitable for the treatment.
There are some lifestyle habits and chronic health conditions that could preclude you from having dental implants, although every case is considered on an individual basis.
In addition to the well-known, general consequences of smoking, it can also impact your dental implants. Following surgery, your body requires certain essential nutrients to help it regenerate cells and tissue and ward off infection.
Nutrients are transported around the body in blood, and smoking diminishes blood flow, impacting the healing process after implant surgery. This could lead to infection and failure of the implant. Because smokers have a much higher chance of implant failure, many dentists won’t perform dental implant surgery on them.
Some chronic health conditions, such as osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease, can affect the success of dental implants. If you have a long-term health condition, it may not necessarily mean you cannot have implant surgery. But your situation will need to be well-controlled, and your health closely monitored to ensure your condition does not cause any complications to your implant procedure.
Hopefully, we have answered the question, “what are dental implants” and you now know how they work.
Dental implants can help restore your smile, replacing missing teeth with a permanent solution that works for most people in good health. Find out more and get in touch with us on (02) 9158 6334 to arrange a free dental consultation near you in Castle Hill.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Colgate: Dental implant surgery
Nature: How do different levels of smoking affect dental implants?