If you’re looking to replace missing or damaged teeth, then dental implants may be the option for you. A tooth restoration alternative to dental veneers or ordinary dentures, dental implants will fuse your bridge or denture in place, helping to restore your self-confidence and have you chewing, chatting and smiling like you’re worth a million dollars – except for only a fraction of that cost!
What are dental implants?
To an untrained eye, dental implants will look just like the natural teeth you were born with – and they’ll function just the same too. The only difference? Beneath the surface will be a metal rod, post, or frame that is surgically positioned in your jaw that will securely mount a replacement tooth. They are an artificial replacement for natural tooth roots that sit below your gums and are the most natural-looking of all the tooth restoration options.
Dental implants are usually offered to patients who have one or more missing teeth and are not interested or eligible for dentures, however, there are few select criteria that you need to meet in order to receive dental implants including:
- Have a jawbone that’s reached full growth
- Have adequate bone to secure the implants or are able to have a bone graft
- Have healthy oral tissues
- Don’t have health conditions that will affect bone healing
- Are willing to commit several months to the process
- Don’t smoke tobacco
How do dental implants work?
Most dental implants are made of titanium which, when surgically fixed into your jawbone, will not be recognised as a foreign object in your body. This metal will then fuse with the bone in your jaw and will mimic the natural tooth root, standing on its own without affecting nearby teeth. Offering great stability, the dental implant will act as a base for a prosthetic tooth, such as a bridge or denture, to sit on top.
Advantages of dental implant surgery
There are many advantages to dental implants, including:
- Improved appearance. The tooth that sits on top of your dental implant is designed to look like your natural tooth so no more pesky stains or gaps in your teeth!
- Permanent solution. As they are fused to your bone, dental implants are a permanent solution.
- Improved speech. People with dentures often complain about slipping, making it hard to talk. Dental implants are screwed in and will not slip.
- Improved comfort. The titanium rod acts like a normal tooth root and will become a part of your body so no discomfort should be felt after the healing process.
- Easier eating. Another downfall of dentures is the constant removal and difficulty chewing. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat any food you want, even the hard ones!
- Improved self-esteem. No longer do you have to worry about hiding your missing, stained or rotted teeth, your smile is now full of pearly whites!
- Improved oral health. Dental implants do not rub up against or fuse to your other teeth, leaving them to do their own thing. They’re also really low maintenance and only require the usual routine of a twice-daily brush and once-daily floss.
What is the procedure like?
You may need to see a variety of specialists before the process for dental implants can begin. It is not uncommon to meet with an oral surgeon, periodontist, prosthodontist, and potentially even an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. Your medical history will be examined to ensure your medications and medical conditions do not affect your eligibility or chances of success. You will be also sitting a comprehensive medical exam that will involve X-rays, 3D imaging, and models made of your teeth jaw.
Once that process is complete, you will enter your treatment plan which is tailored to your specific situation but will be something similar to the below:
- The titanium rod or post is surgically placed into your jawbone. The healing process will seal the metal post, anchoring it securely in your jaw. Healing can take from 6-12 weeks.
- Another small post called an abutment is attached to hold your new tooth, whether that be a crown, bridge, or denture.
As this is a surgery, anesthesia options will be available to you as well as post-surgery pain medication that can be bought over the counter.