An implant functions like a natural tooth root by stimulating the jawbone and preventing bone deterioration. It simultaneously provides a sturdy foundation for a dental restoration like a dental crown, dental bridge, or denture.
A dental implant is a small post made from surgical-grade titanium. It is embedded into the jawbone during a minor surgical procedure. An implant takes about three to six months to heal. The healing process where the implant becomes integrated with the bone is called osseointegration.
Once osseointegration is achieved a titanium cylinder connector called an implant abutment is then screwed onto the implant and projects above the gum line. Abutments can be pre-fabricated or custom-made by the dental lab, depending upon the location of the tooth being replaced.
A Highly Accurate Impression
Dr. Best takes a highly accurate impression of the abutment. This impression is used to build a model of the tooth, which is sent to a special laboratory to create the crown. Dr. Best crafts a provisional crown and puts it in place to cover the abutment while the permanent crown is being manufactured.
Depending upon the location of the missing tooth or teeth, Dr. Best may make a dental flipper, temporary crown, partial denture or full denture to fill the space missing teeth creates while the bone heals and the final prosthesis is fabricated.
Once the laboratory has fabricated the implant crown, Dr. Best cements it onto the abutment. The abutment is no longer visible. In effect, the crown becomes the tooth’s new outer surface. Patients can confidently eat, smile, laugh, talk, play and enjoy all of their regular activities without thinking about their teeth.
How Successful are Dental Implants?
Success or failure of implants depends on the health of the recipient and condition of their jawbone. Some medications can affect the chances of osseointegration and the health of the tissues in the mouth. Stress on an implant before it is full integrated can decrease its success.
In the presence of healthy tissues, a well-integrated implant with appropriate biomechanical loads can have 5-year plus survival rates of 95 to 98 percent. Crowns, bridges, and dentures attached to the top of an implant can have a 10 to 15 year lifespan.
Benefits of Dental Implants
There are distinct advantages implants have over other tooth replacement options:
- Bridges require an irreversible reduction of the teeth adjacent to the missing ones.
- Like bridges, partial dentures rely on neighboring teeth. They use metal clasps that fit around the adjacent teeth. Food tends to stick to these clasps, which can be embarrassing and lead to decay. Also, they need to be removed after every meal and cleaned.
- Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that functions independently of surrounding teeth and gum tissue.
- Implant crowns, by filling gaps left by missing teeth, provide better chewing ability, head off jaw joint problems, and can restore your smile to its original form and function. Implant crowns even feel like natural teeth.