What happens when a patient loses a tooth? We wish we could say that we could give them a new tooth that is just as good as the one that they had before. Truth be told, there will never be anything as good as what God gave you. However, dental implants have provided a restoration that is as close to a natural tooth as possible.
Once a tooth is lost (or in some cases developmentally absent), the site is evaluated for bone levels and if an implant restoration is appropriate. Once a site is deemed appropriate, the implant is placed in the bone of the upper or lower jaw. In most cases, the implant is left alone for 3 months to heal so the bone can grow around it. Osseointegration is the process by which bone heals and meets the implant, securing it into the jaw. After the 3-month healing process, the implant is exposed, and an impression is taken to fabricate the crown of the implant. The lab creates an abutment and crown. The abutment is attached to the implant and the crown is cemented onto the abutment.
Dental implants are the closest restoration in dentistry to getting a permanent tooth back. Implants have an excellent track record of long-term success and can last a life time with proper care and maintenance. Dental implants allow for conservation of natural tooth structure because modifications to adjacent teeth are not needed. Dental implants are not susceptible to cavities and they help preserve and stimulate healthy bone in the jaw. Dental implants aren’t just for the replacement of single teeth. If you have dentures, implants may be a great option to help with retention and stability. As bone resorbs, it is tougher to prevent dentures from moving during function, it may be beneficial to have implants placed to help with stability.
Just like a natural tooth, you must brush and floss around the implant and schedule regular dental cleanings and check-ups. Just because the implant doesn’t get cavities doesn’t mean that you can stop caring for it, it is still susceptible to infection and bone loss called peri-implantitis.