Patients who need false teeth, from a single tooth to a full set of dentures may be given the option to have dental implant surgery. This may be confusing to some and daunting to others but this article aims to break it all down in plain English so that everyone can understand what dental implants are, why they need them and how implant dentists go about putting them in. Dental implants can offer patients a chance at confidence and vitality by fixing a broken smile to replace an old one for the longevity of false teeth and the jaw itself.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a small titanium post or screw that is surgically embedded into the bone of the up and/or lower skull. An abutment is fitted to the implant – think of it like a screw within a screw. Once the implant is set and into and fused with the jaw, the false tooth or set of false teeth can be fitted to the abutment.
What is a false tooth?
A false tooth is usually made of dental porcelain or ceramic, and it is designed and crafted to look exactly like a natural tooth in shape, colour, thickness and transparency with the added benefit of not being able to stain like natural teeth. Each set of false teeth is unique and custom created to match each different patient.
Why are dental implants important?
When one loses a tooth, or indeed multiple teeth, the bone surrounding where the root used to be will begin to degrade and dissolve as the body begins to reabsorb it. This happens because the root serves as an anchor point for this bone and when it is no longer there, the body no longer needs it. A dental implant will replace the missing root and because it is made of titanium, it will encourage the bone to grow back as human bone tissue loves to fuse with this metal alloy.
It is important to maintain the bone structure of the jaw in order to keep the remaining teeth in place should there be any and to keep the facial structure sound because as the bone slowly wastes away the cheeks will appear to become sunken and drawn, making people look older.
What kinds of implants are there?
A single implant can be used to support a single missing tooth and two implants can be used to support a bridge of teeth. An entire set of dentures can be supported on only 4 implants and this is enough to keep all the bone in place as well.
What is the procedure?
The implant dentist will first numb the area that will be worked on. Then an incision is made in the gum to expose the bone which will be drilled into in order to screw the implant in place. The area is then stitched up and patients will be sent home with a temporary crown or denture to wait for 6 months for the bone to grow around the implant. After the 6 months is over, the false teeth can then be fitted.