A dental implant is a surgical component that interfaces with the bone of the jaw to support a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge, denture, facial prosthesis or to act as an orthodontic anchor. Some of the advantages of dental implants are as follows:
- Improved appearance
- Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth
- Because they are designed to fuse with bone, they become permanent solutions
- Improved speech. With poor-fitting dentures, the teeth can slip within the mouth causing you to mumble or slur your words.
In the initial surgical appointment, a tooth root implant made of titanium is gently placed into the bone socket of the missing tooth. The procedure can be done using either local anesthesia or general anesthesia for patients who are anxious. The recovery from the procedure is often associated with very little discomfort. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implant and secures it into place.
Once the root implant is firmly bonded to the bone, the second phase begins. Your oral surgeon or your dentist will uncover the implant and attach small post, which will act as an anchor for the artificial tooth. Meanwhile, if desired, the patient can be outfitted with a temporary prosthesis, such as dentures or a flipper (much like an orthodontic retainer that has a tooth attached to it).
A digital scan of your bite will be taken and sent to the dental lab which will fabricate the replacement tooth to meet your specifications. The placement of the artificial tooth, or crown, is performed by your restorative dentist. The final insert of the tooth requires only a short, simple appointment. Typically, this healing process takes anywhere between 3-6 six months, depending on the patient.