Tooth loss or severe oral damage affects the ability to eat and can significantly change the appearance of the face. Even the loss of a few teeth can cause sagging and give the appearance of advanced age. Dental implants can be an important treatment in these situations.
Dental implants are a combination of a titanium stem and a crown. Improvements in implant technology have made them extremely reliable. They are one of the most important advances in dentistry, allowing patients with missing or extremely damaged teeth to enjoy a fully functional bite.
Placing a dental implant involves several visits to the dentist. First, it is necessary to ensure that a patient is a viable candidate for the procedure. The mouth is examined and impressions of the teeth and gums are made. X-rays are taken to evaluate the condition of the bone and teeth. If there is insufficient bone a bone graft can be done to strengthen it.
The next step is to prepare the site. The implant is made of titanium and is placed in bone where it acts as an anchor for the crown. The implant will heal in approximately four months, giving the surrounding bone time to form a strong bond with the titanium.
Patients are sometimes fitted with a temporary crown or denture while healing to facilitate eating and smiling. The impressions of the teeth and gums are used to create a permanent crown (artificial tooth) which is fitted to the dental implant once it has healed. Each case is different and the entire procedure takes from six months to one year to complete. Many patients find this the best option for tooth replacement.