Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth, which look, feel, and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything and can smile with confidence, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. Dental implants can be used to replace one tooth, numerous teeth, or aid in the retention of your denture.
What are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are tiny titanium cylinders, which are inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. They are surgically placed into the jawbone. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts are then attached to the implant which protrude through the gums. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth.
Implants also help preserve facial structure, decreasing the bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
The Surgical Procedure
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed within your jawbone. For the first six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums gradually bonding with the jawbone. You may be able to wear temporary dentures or bridges and eat a soft diet during this healing period.
After the implants have bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. The Doctor will uncover the implants and attach small posts, which will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. These posts protrude through the gums. At this time your dentist will prepare and place your replacement teeth over these posts. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.