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In the past, losing teeth meant your appearance and your ability to eat normal foods would be greatly impacted. Today with dental implants, you can maintain a natural appearance and the ability to eat the foods you enjoy with teeth that feel like your own.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a safe, medically proven alternative to traditional bridgework and removable prosthetics. Made of titanium, implants are screw like anchors placed in the jaw bone to take the place of your missing tooth root. After the bone has healed around it, a process called “integration,” you are ready for restoration. This could be a single tooth replacement with a crown or multiple teeth replacement with a bridge.
Sometimes the implant can be used as a connection to securely add precision attachments to a partial or denture. The increase in stability and retention is then many times greater than the conventional appliance.
About The Implant Process
The implant process involves several steps that take place over a 4-9 month time period. First is a consultation with your dentist to evaluate if you are a good candidate for dental implants.
Next is the placement of the implant into the bone by a dental surgeon while you are under either local or general anesthesia. Over the next few months, the bone will heal to the surface of the implant.
After this healing period is over, an impression is taken and the type of restoration you need will be fabricated.
The Benefits of Dental Implants
- Maintain Anatomy: If you have missing teeth, the bone begins to shrink over time. This bone loss can make you jaw line recede and change your facial structure. Dental implants can help prevent this from happening by holding the bone.
- Keep Your Teeth Healthy: Your own natural teeth are not compromised because there is no need to grind down healthy teeth to attach a bridge. Also, no metal clasps are needed to hold your removable partial.
- Security: Dental implants do not slip or move while you are talking or eating. This eliminates some of the problems of dentures and partials, including poor fit, gum irritation and trauma to the teeth with clasps.
Are There Any Limitations?
- Chronic illnesses such as diabetes or leukemia may interfere with the healing after surgery.
- Another contraindication is for patients who are taking a category of drugs called “bisphosphonates,” especially the IV form which is taken for metastatic cancer. However, the milder oral form of the drug, which is taken for osteoporosis, is also raising some concerns.
- If you have lost too much bone it could be a problem; a consultation with an oral surgeon will help you to know if you are a good candidate.
- The use of tobacco is believed to cause a higher failure rate.
Improve Your Appearance, Self-Confidence and Peace of Mind
Home care is very important to the success of your implant but it is basically the same as caring for a natural tooth. Dental implants can improve your appearance, self-confidence and give you greater peace of mind. They look and feel similar to natural teeth and give you confidence while eating and speaking. Today, your best option for tooth replacement is a dental implant.
Bridges are natural-looking dental appliances that can replace a section of missing teeth. Because they are custom-made, bridges are barely noticeable and can restore the natural contour of teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth.
Bridges are sometimes referred to as fixed partial dentures, because they are semi-permanent and are bonded to existing teeth or implants. There are several types of fixed dental bridges (cannot be removed), including conventional fixed bridges, cantilever bridges and resin-bonded bridges. Unlike a removable bridge, which you can take out and clean, your dentist can only remove a fixed bridge. .
Porcelain, gold alloys or combinations of materials are usually used to make bridge appliances.
Appliances called implant bridges are attached to an area below the gum tissue, or the bone.
Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth.
Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth's function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. When decay in a tooth has become so advanced that large portions of the tooth must be removed, crowns are often used to restore the tooth.
Crowns are also used to attach bridges, cover implants, prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse, or an existing filling is in jeopardy of becoming loose or dislocated. Crowns also serve an aesthetic use, and are applied when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance.
A tooth must usually be reduced in size to accommodate a crown. An impression is then made from the existing tooth to create a custom-designed crown. The impression is sent to a special lab, which manufactures a custom-designed crown. In some cases, a temporary crown is applied until the permanent crown is ready. Permanent crowns are cemented in place.
Crowns are sometimes confused with veneers, but they are quite different. Veneers are typically applied only to relatively small areas.
Caring For Your Crowns
With proper care, a good quality crown could last up to eight years or longer. It is very important to floss in the area of the crown to avoid excess plaque or collection of debris around the restoration.
Certain behaviors such as jaw clenching or bruxism (teeth grinding) significantly shorten the life of a crown. Moreover, eating brittle foods, ice or hard candy can compromise the adhesion of the crown, or even damage the crown.