What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that your dentist surgically places into your jaw bone to support a tooth replacement, such as a dental crown, dental bridge, or dentures.
Together, a dental implant and a tooth replacement look and act very much like a natural tooth.
A dental implant is made up of two parts: a titanium rod that is inserted into the jaw bone and acts as the tooth's root, and an abutment that screws into the rod and supports the artificial tooth replacement.
The Dental Implant Procedure
Sometimes, it is possible to place dental implants on the same day as the teeth are extracted but usually, it takes three to six months of healing before you are ready for the implant to be placed. Your dentist will be able to provide a more specific timeline based on your needs and treatment plan.
Typically, the procedure will take two appointments to complete. During the first visit, the dentist will begin the implant procedure by surgically placing the titanium rod into your jaw bone beneath the gum tissue. Then they will stitch the gum tissue back into place.
As the tissue heals, the implant will bond with the bone and attach to the gum. The healing process could take up to several months.
Once your gum tissue has healed, your dentist will attach the abutment to the rod at the second appointment. Finally, they will attach a tooth replacement to the abutment.
This procedure will result in an artificial tooth that looks and functions much like a natural tooth.
In cases where there might not be enough jaw bone volume to support an implant, bone graft surgery may be required so implants can be placed later.
Many patients are concerned about how painful the dental implant procedure will be. While each patient's pain threshold is different, most will not experience significant discomfort during or after the procedure. You'll have the chance to talk to your dentist about anesthesia options and plan your procedure around your preferences.
Typically, dental implant placement is completed using local anesthesia.
Why use a dental implant?
If you're missing one or more teeth, dental implants can be used to address a number of issues and protect your oral health.
You can prevent surrounding teeth from shifting, restore any jaw pain or bite issues, and even improve chewing, speech, and digestion by using a dental implant and a tooth replacement such as a dental bridge, dental crown, or dentures. This procedure can also help prevent the appearance of a "sunken face," which is common when teeth are missing.
Wondering whether you'll be able to chew normally? Typically, chewing has been shown to improve after treatment. After a brief period of adapting to your new implants, chewing efficiency for most patients is similar to that of natural teeth.
How long will my dental implant last?
A dental implant can last for many years if properly cared for. Brushing and flossing at home will be essential, as will scheduling a regular dental exam and cleaning with your dentist. Nutrition, genetics, and the development of any dental disease are all factors that can affect the longevity of dental implants.