There are several existing treatments to counter tooth loss, but by far the most durable and functional solution is a dental implant. Implants consist of a metal anchor inserted directly into the jawbone, and a protruding post where the artificial tooth is attached.
The loss of a tooth, or multiple teeth, can have far-reaching consequences for your overall dental health and physical appearance. The space created by removing a tooth can lead to the remaining teeth drifting out of their assigned positions. This can result in changes to the bite, additional tooth decay, eventual loss of additional teeth, and even gum disease.
Implants, as a permanent solution, prevent these additional detrimental effects, and can broaden a patient’s options when future issues with remaining teeth arise. For instance, an implant can support a bridge, replace a partial denture, or even secure a fixed denture.
Dental implants require surgery, and the process may take up to 3 months or more to complete. There are multiple steps in the process, and, depending on the type of implant used, these steps may vary.
The process by which a single-tooth implant is placed is detailed below:
- With the patient under local anesthesia, a metal anchor (known as an artificial root) is placed into the jawbone. The bone then grows around the anchor over the next three to six months.
- A healing cap is placed once the implant is uncovered.
- The healing cap is removed and a metal post, or abutment, is attached to the anchor.
- After the gums and jawbone have healed, a crown is constructed and screwed or cemented to the post. It may take several appointments to properly fit the new crown to achieve the optimum result.
To properly care for your new implant all you need to do is maintain your good oral hygiene habits; brush twice a day and floss. It is important to floss around the front, back, and sides of your implant to keep it looking its best. It is also a good idea to avoid chewing on extremely sticky foods and hard objects.