A dental implant is the most natural-looking and functioning replacement for a missing tooth. It is composed of a strong metal post that’s implanted into the jaw bone. The implant is used to support a prosthetic tooth (or crown) or in some cases, a bridge or a denture. Implants have become an increasingly popular alternative in recent years.
Dental implants usually require three office visits. At the first visit, the dentist implants the metal post into the jaw bone. If your jaw bone is very thin or if it’s been lost due to disease or natural attrition, you may need to have a bone graft, which uses a small sample of bone to supplement your existing jaw bone. Bone grafts often can be performed at the same time as implant placement, and they can use your own bone or donor bone from a tissue bank. Once the post is in place, the area is allowed to “rest” for several weeks while the natural bone tissue fuses with the post to help secure it. At the second visit, a second piece called an abutment is secured to the post. The abutment is the piece that attaches to the artificial tooth, bridge, or denture and holds it in place. Then the dentist will take an impression of the area and send it to the lab that’s creating the restoration. Finally, at the third visit, the restoration is attached to the abutment and adjusted for a secure and comfortable fit.
Dental implants do cost more than dentures and bridges, but they offer multiple advantages. First, because an implant is fused with your own jaw bone, it’s very secure, and that means the crown, bridge, or denture that attaches to it will also be extremely secure, so there’s no risk of embarrassing slipping or the sore spots (and potential infection) slippage can cause. Implants also feel more like your own natural teeth, and it’s much easier to get used to dentures and bridges when they’re secured via an implant post. Plus, because the post is in your jaw bone, it acts just like a natural tooth root to stimulate the growth of new bone tissue. That means when old bone tissue wears away, it is replaced by new tissue. And that means the neighboring teeth are far less likely to become weak and fall out. Dentures and bridges can’t stimulate bone replacement, which means additional tooth loss is more likely to occur.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!