Is an empty space from a missing tooth preventing your smile from looking at its best? Are you having trouble chewing? Is your self-confidence affected? If so, there are ways to replace missing teeth, restore lost function and enhance the beauty of your smile.
Today, the optimal tooth-replacement method, supported by decades of research and preferred by dentists, is the dental implant. So what is a dental implant? Basically, it is a small titanium replacement for the root-part of your tooth that fuses to the bone and attaches to a crown. Because this is a two-part procedure, one or more highly trained dentists may be involved in your implant treatment.
Here’s how it works: Your dentist will examine you to see if there is enough space and bone in the area of a lost tooth. The longer a tooth has been missing, the more likely it is that the bone that once supported it has deteriorated. A major advantage of implants is that they prevent further loss of bone. If you don’t have enough bone, don’t worry. A relatively routine procedure known as bone grafting can regenerate bone where it has been lost to ensure the success of your implant. When there is sufficient bone, your dentist will insert the implant. It’s usually done in the dentist’s office using the type of anesthesia that is right for you. After the surgery, your dentist will give you a temporary tooth replacement while you wait for the implant to fuse to the surrounding bone, a process that can take several months. Once your implant fuses to the surrounding bone, your dentist will attach your final crown. It might go directly onto the implant, or, more often, onto another piece, called an abutment, positioned between the implant and the crown. You now have a sturdy tooth replacement that is visually indistinguishable from a natural tooth.
What’s also great about dental implants is the variety of ways they can be used to replace missing teeth. From a single tooth to implant-supported bridgework, they are very versatile. Implants can even be used to help support and retain dentures so they are more stable and function better. Research studies have shown a success rate well over 90%, making implants the most economical long-term solutions available. Your dentist will evaluate any risk factors you may have, which in rare cases may prevent dental implants from properly fusing to your bone.
Keep in mind that dental implants require the same care as your natural teeth. Keep up good oral hygiene at home with brushing and flossing. Regular check-ups and professional cleanings will ensure the health of your gums and supporting bone – an important part of long-term implant success. If you have any missing teeth, schedule a consultation with your dentist to learn more about this life-changing treatment that can help you eat and smile with confidence.