Dental implants are 'fake' teeth which are used to replace your missing natural teeth. They consist of a metal stud (which is used to hold the implant in place in the jawbone) and a visible crown (which is the tooth like structure). They are connected to each other with the help of adhesives.
Are dental implants the next best thing to your natural teeth?
Of course! Most dentists agree that dental implants are the best alternatives to your natural teeth. This is due to the fact that dental implants are very strong and durable. They look, fit and feel just like natural teeth and restore the functionality of one's mouth completely. Other options such as dentures and bridges have their own limitations, which makes implants the best option to replace missing teeth.
How functional are dental implants?
Implants replace missing teeth. Thereby, they restore the functionality of the mouth, which includes chewing, biting, phonetics, etc.
Implants help in restoring a person's smile. Having missing teeth would be a serious embarrassment. Since implants look exactly like natural teeth, one can sport a beautiful smile without having to worry about the replacement teeth.
Dental implants help stabilize the remaining natural teeth. Having missing teeth would lead to the 'drifting' of the remaining teeth, where the teeth would loosen from their sockets. The metal studs of the implants would fill the space, thereby preventing the drifting of teeth.
They prevent further tooth loss, as they prevent the remaining teeth from loosening from their sockets.
They help in retaining the natural shape of your face. Missing teeth could alter the shape of the jawbone and also the entire face. Getting implants help in preventing sagging of the facial tissues.
They prevent the deterioration of the jawbone. When a tooth is extracted, the jawbone loses its strength and firmness. But getting dental implants helps in preserving the natural bone and it also stimulates bone growth.
Since dental implants do not have a pulp comprising of nerves, and the crown isn't made of enamel, you need not worry about cavities. So you can eat your favorite foods without having to worry about cavities.
Apart from all the above stated functional benefits, dental implants are long-lasting. With proper care, they're expected to last several years. If any restoration is required, it can be done easily.
How is an implant surgically installed?
The procedure to get an implant would take several appointments over a span of a few months. This is because the implant is directly fixed on to the jawbone, and this has to be done with great precision.
The screening process would help the dentist in determining the amount of jawbone available, the spacing available for fitting the implant, etc. An x-ray is taken to determine the position of the remaining teeth. Next, a mold is taken to fabricate the dental implant and sent to the dental laboratory. A hole will be drilled into the jawbone for inserting the metal stud of the implant. Local anesthesia will be administered before starting the procedure. The metal stud, which will usually be made up of titanium, will be screwed into position. The wound would be allowed to heal naturally for a few weeks. During this period, the gum tissue will re-grow around the implant and cover it. The bone tissue would grow around the metal stud and hold it firmly.
The crown would be attached to the metal stud. A connector called an abutment is used for this purpose, along with adhesives. The implant would then be polished and made to match the color and shade of the natural teeth.