What are dental implants?
Dental implants are generally titanium structures that are embedded in the jawbone directly under gum tissue previously occupied by the patient’s teeth. They are the newer and more stable alternative to dentures, which were the only choice of patients to replace missing teeth prior to the development of dental implants. These embedded structures are able to permanently support dental restorations such as dental bridges, dental crowns, and even dentures.
Who can get dental implants?
Because dental implants need to be firmly embedded into the underlying bone, only patients with sufficient bone mass and density will be able to receive the implant. These two factors are critical to ensure that the implant is properly supported and that there is enough bone tissue for it to fuse with. Patients will also need a strong immune system because it will take about six months for the titanium post to completely fuse with the underlying bone and for the wound to heal, and during this time the patient’s own immune system must be able to properly instigate the healing process.
Types of implants
- Full upper replacements are implants that are used to replace all the missing teeth on the patient’s maxillary arch
- Full lower replacements are implants that are used replace all the missing teeth on the patient’s mandibular arch
- Anterior replacements are implants are used to replace teeth at the front of the mouth, particularly the incisors or cuspids
- Posterior replacements are implants that are used to replace missing teeth at the back of the mouth, particularly bicuspids and molars
What is the procedure when getting a dental implant?
The installation of dental implants will be completed in several visits, requiring the patient to come in for an appointment several times over a course of a few months for the restoration to be complete.
- During the initial visit, an incision will be made on the gum tissue directly above the underlying bone where the implants will be embedded
- The implant will be drilled into place and allowed to heal for about six months, during which it will be expected to fuse completely with the bone
- The incision will be sutured closed to facilitate healing
- After the indicated healing period, additional metal posts will be a fixed onto the implant to provide the necessary support for any of the dental restorations that will be used afterwards
- Replacement teeth will be attached onto the metal extensions