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If you are missing a tooth or about to undergo tooth extraction, your dentist may have mentioned dental implants to restore your smile. But what are dental implants, and how do they work?
Dental implants are an alternative to a bridge or denture to replace missing teeth. They are considered the best method of tooth replacement because they are fitted into the jawbone and gum tissue just like natural teeth.
But, what are dental implants, exactly?
A dental implant is the only type of restoration that replaces an entire natural tooth, including the tooth root. The physical implant comprises three parts:
- A titanium dental implant screw
- The abutment – a small component that connects the false tooth with the implant screw
- A porcelain dental crown matched to the shape and colour of the surrounding teeth to blend seamlessly into the smile
Dentists can use dental implants to replace:
- A single missing tooth
- Multiple missing teeth
- A complete set of missing teeth
Implants can also be used to stabilise conventional dentures that have a habit of moving and slipping when a patient speaks or eats.
Why choose dental implants?
Dental implants provide a discreet and long-term solution for missing or failing teeth. Tooth loss can impact speech and cause you to change how you eat, not to mention giving your confidence a knock.
Furthermore, dental implants fuse with the jawbone to become a permanent fixture in the mouth, effectively eliminating the need for dental adhesives or additional supports. A dental implant can replace 90% of a natural tooth’s biting force so that you can eat all your favourite crunchy and chewy foods once more.
Because a dental implant acts as an artificial tooth root, it stimulates the bone and gum tissue to keep it healthy and dense, preventing the bone loss that generally occurs with tooth loss and retaining the facial structures.
We’ve answered your question about what are dental implants, but you may be wondering how they’re placed into the jaw.
Dental implant surgery
If there is one thing that may put a person off getting dental implants, it’s likely to be the thought of surgery. There’s really no need to be worried about dental implant surgery. It’s a minor operation that, in the case of a single dental implant, can be completed in around 20 minutes.
Meticulous planning by a team of dental professionals beforehand ensures surgery is fast, safe, and comfortable. Local anaesthesia dispels pain or discomfort, and some patients elect to have dental sedation to help them relax during the surgery. While you may experience soreness once the numbness wears off, most patients agree that it’s not as bad as a tooth extraction.
A dental implant requires multiple steps
Aside from undergoing surgery, patients also need to commit to a procedure that can last for several months. The dental implant procedure is performed in several stages, with healing time between each step.
After implant surgery, the mouth is left to heal, and osseointegration occurs (between 3 and 6 months). Blood cells attach to the implant screw to keep it firmly in place during this process. As long as the jawbone and gums remain healthy, the implant will not move.
Once the implant has stabilised, the abutment is connected to the implant screw in another short surgery. The mouth is left for a week or two to heal until the dental crown can be installed, and you have a permanent smile to be proud of.
Are you interested in getting dental implants?
Now you know what dental implants are, why not schedule a consultation with the team at Smiles First Dental by calling on (02) 9000 1138 to see if they’re right for you. We provide immediate implant placement where we can, which is gentler and less invasive for our patients.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
PubMed Central – Bite Force And Dental Implant Treatment: A Short Review
Colgate – A Guide to Sedation Dentistry