Dental implants are becoming an increasingly common treatment, with many people choosing them as a long-term solution for missing teeth. People often lose teeth, either as a result of dental health problems or as a consequence of an accident of injury; having gaps in the teeth may affect the appearance of your smile and it can also cause problems when you are eating and speaking.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are fine titanium rods, which are inserted into pre-drilled sockets in the jaw bone; the rod is designed to replace the root portion of the missing tooth. The implant needs time to settle into the gum but once the healing period is over, a new crown, denture or dental bridge can be attached to it, creating a natural looking replacement for the original tooth.
Why are dental implants so popular?
For many years, people who lost teeth had to choose between dentures and dental bridges to fill their gaps; however, in recent years, dental implants have been developed and provided a long-term alternative. Dental implants are a popular choice with both patients and dentists because they last a very long time and do not interfere with the healthy tissue around the missing tooth; dental implants also enable the new teeth to function very effectively in the same way as original teeth.
Dental implants also help to reduce bone loss and promote good oral health, as it is easy to clean the new tooth; unlike dentures and dental bridges, there are no special cleaning instructions and the implant should be cleaned in exactly the same way as natural teeth.
Dental implants are also beneficial for people who have dentures, as the implants provide better anchorage, which improves the function of the teeth. Implanted dentures also help to put people’s minds at rest because they know that their dentures will not come loose; implanted dentures do not affect speech or eating and they tend to fit better.
What does the procedure involve?
If you decide to go for dental implants, your dentist will first check your general oral health and treat any underlying or developing conditions. The implant is placed in a socket on the jawbone, so it is first necessary to cut and lift the gum and drill a small hole in the bone; the titanium implant is then fixed into the hole and the gum flap is stitched and closed. The implant is then left to settle into the gum and the gum tissue is left to heal for a period of 6 weeks to 6 months; after 4 to 6 weeks, a temporary crown can be fitted to the implant and then the permanent crown will be attached once the healing period has come to an end. There is the instance where people do not have enough bone mass to take the implant; if this is the case, the dentist may use a bone graft procedure to take bone from another place in the body and added to the bone in the jaw.
Are implants suitable for everyone?
Dental implants are appropriate for a vast majority of individuals, although smokers, heavy drinkers and people with dental health problems will usually be advised to go for an alternative treatment.
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