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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.
When facial reconstruction, including procedures involving the oral cavity, is called for, a specialist is needed. Surgical procedures of the neck and head area are performed by a maxillofacial surgeon.
Common maxillofacial procedures include denture-related procedures and jaw surgery.
Protruding chins, crooked or buck teeth or misaligned teeth are good candidates for maxillofacial surgery.
In some people, jaws do not grow at the same rate; one may come in larger than the other, or simply not be aligned properly with other bony structures in the skull. This can cause problems other than appearance issues; an improperly aligned jaw can cause problems with the tongue and lips, and speech and chewing problems as well. Jaw surgery can move jaws into their proper place.
Other kinds of maxillofacial surgery can correct problems with upper facial features such as the nose and cheek.
In addition to correcting jaw problems surgically, orthodontic appliances such as braces may be needed to restore bite relationship and ensure continued proper alignment of the jaw. In some cases, tiny wires or small rubber bands may be needed to keep the jaws in place and promote faster healing. In other cases, small "fixation" screws or plates may need to be inserted in the jaws to facilitate easy movement of the jaws following surgery.
People who have worn dentures for a long time can sometimes experience loss of gum tissue and even bone, mostly from the wear and tear of the appliance on the soft tissues of their mouth.
In extreme cases, maxillofacial surgery, including bone grafts, manipulation of soft tissues or even jaw realignment, may be performed to correct such problems.