What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are not exactly a new technology, but their popularity has increased in recent years because of their ability to restore oral health while simultaneously providing a beautiful, natural-looking smile that is also permanent. This page will explain what they do and how they work.
Dental implants are metal posts or frames that are surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath your gums. Once in place, they allow your dentist to mount replacement teeth onto them.
How do Dental Implants Work?
Because implants fuse to your jawbone, they provide stable support for artificial teeth. Dentures and bridges mounted to implants won’t slip or shift in your mouth — an especially important benefit when eating and speaking. This secure fit helps the dentures and bridges — as well as individual crowns placed over implants — feel more natural than conventional bridges or dentures.
For some people, ordinary bridges and dentures are simply not comfortable or even possible, due to sore spots, poor ridges or gagging. In addition, ordinary bridges must be attached to teeth on either side of the space left by the missing tooth. An advantage of implants is that no adjacent teeth need to be prepared or ground down to hold your new replacement tooth/teeth in place.
To receive implants, you need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. You must also commit to keeping these structures healthy. Meticulous oral hygiene and regular dental visits are critical to the long-term success of dental implants.
Implants are usually more expensive than other methods of tooth replacement, and most insurance carriers typically cover less than 10 percent of the fees.
The American Dental Association considers two types of implants to be safe. They are:
- Endosteal implants — these are surgically implanted directly into the jawbone. Once the surrounding gum tissue has healed, a second surgery is needed to connect a post to the original implant. Finally, an artificial tooth (or teeth) is attached to the post-individually, or grouped on a bridge or denture.
- Subperiosteal implants — these consist of a metal frame that is fitted onto the jawbone just below the gum tissue. As the gums heal, the frame becomes fixed to the jawbone. Posts, which are attached to the frame, protrude through the gums. As with endosteal implants, artificial teeth are then mounted to the posts.
The Anatomy of Dental Implants
Dental Implants 101: The Post
The post is a medical-grade titanium screw that serves as a root for your new teeth. The advantages of medical-grade titanium are that it doesn’t corrode and it has properties that help it fuse permanently with human bones. As an added bonus, modern dental implants now only require four posts to restore an entire arch.
Dental Implants 101: The Crown
The crown is the part of the tooth that you can see. It’s usually made of porcelain and is also fully customizable so you can design your perfect new smile. It’s also strong enough to allow you to bite into an apple or an ear of corn.
Dental Implants 101: The Abutment
The abutment is what holds the post and crown together. The connection created by the abutment reinforces the post and crown, making them even stronger and permanent (but removable by a doctor). The best part is that these begin supporting your new teeth the same day as your surgery.