Earlier, dentures and bridges were the only option for missing teeth. Today, however, dental implants are the most common treatment for one or more missing teeth. If you are one of those Americans who have missing teeth, claim your independence this Fourth of July by opting for dental implants from your trusted dentist.
Dental implants, as we know them today, were invented in 1952 by a Swedish orthopedic surgeon, Per-Ingvar Branemark. So, what is a dental implant? A dental implant is simply a surgical fixture that is placed into the jawbone and allowed to fuse with the bone over a span of several months. The dental implant acts as a replacement for the root of a missing tooth.
This “artificial tooth root” helps to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Having a dental implant fused to the jawbone is the closest you can get to a natural tooth, because it stands on its own without affecting the nearby teeth and has a great deal of stability. The process of fusion between the dental implant and the jawbone is called “osseointegration.”
Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or then, all of the teeth and typically have three parts:
- The implant: This is a titanium screw that serves as a root for your new teeth. The bone fuses to the titanium and it can last indefinetely.
- The abutment: This is a connector that supports and holds a tooth or set of teeth. It is permanent, but can be removed by your dentist.
- The crown: This is the prosthetic tooth and is a part of the tooth that you can see. It is usually made of either zirconium or porcelain, so that it is durable and looks like a natural tooth.
You are an ideal candidate for a dental implant, if you have good oral and bone health. You should have adequate bone in your jaw to support the implant and healthy gum tissues that are free of periodontal disease. Smoking is the biggest risk factor for the failure of implants.
Dental implants are made to last and are the best long-term and cost-effective solution to missing teeth. Traditional tooth-supported dental bridges, typically last from five to seven years, whereas dental implants can last a lifetime if properly placed and taken care of. They also let you speak easily, without being embarrassed.
Dental implant surgery is usually performed under a local anesthetic, and therefore no pain is felt during the procedure. After the anesthetic has worn off, post-surgery discomfort can be treated with Over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Most of my patients return and tell me “it was easier than I expected.”
You should consult your local dentist to find out if you are a likely candidate for dental implants. The dentist or surgeon will first visually examine the site in the mouth where a dental implant is being considered, as well as look at dental imaging studies, such as X-rays, CT scans, and panoramic films.
Your dentist will also evaluate the quality and quantity of your jawbone, to determine if more bone is needed at the site. Once it has been established that a dental implant can be placed at the site, you will be scheduled for the implant procedure. At the Tacoma Dental Group, we specialize in dental implants and carefully evaluate each patient to determine whether and what kind of dental implant will work for them.
So, this Fourth of July, treat yourself to a dental implant and restore your million-dollar smile…forever!