Losing a tooth can significantly disturb your quality of life, creating some difficulty in everyday activities like eating and speaking. Although modern dental restorative procedures have resulted in a considerable reduction in the number of teeth extracted each year, many people still have one or more missing natural teeth in their mouth. According to an estimate, about 70% of American people aged 35-44 have lost at least one of their natural teeth. If you are one of them and looking for a permanent and lifelong replacement option for a missing tooth, then dental implants should be your first choice!
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a fixture that is embedded within the jaw bone and replaces natural teeth by supporting a prosthesis, such as a crown or removable or fixed denture. After the placement of dental implants, bone formation occurs in the surroundings of the implant, resulting in firm anchorage and stability of the artificial tooth.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
The success and excellent durability of dental implants is dependent upon their ability to form direct contact with the surrounding jaw bone. This process is known as osseointegration and ensures that any prosthesis that is placed over the implant remains retained and stable, thereby restoring optimal functioning of the artificial tooth.
Who Should Get an Implant?
In general, any person who has one or more missing natural teeth is a candidate for an implant. You should consider getting an implant if:
• You want a long term and durable replacement for your missing natural teeth.
• You want to restore your facial esthetics by getting your missing teeth replaced.
• You want to eat and speak without any difficulty.
• You want to get rid of your inconvenient and uncomfortable dentures.
Why Are Implants Better Than Other Dental Prosthetics?
Dental implants are gaining widespread popularity as the most convenient and durable replacement option for missing teeth. Let’s have a look why you might prefer them over other tooth replacement options, such as dentures and bridges:
• Enjoy a Beautiful Smile – Loss of a tooth can ruin your smile and facial esthetics. Esthetically pleasing dental prosthesis can be placed over the implants, thereby restoring your beautiful smile and charming appearance.
• Durability – Unlike the dentures and dental bridges, dental implants are designed to last forever. If you take proper care of your oral health and adhere to your dentist’s instructions regarding the care of the implants, you can expect them to function for a lifetime.
• Minimal Requirement for Tooth Preparation – Fabrication of teeth bridges, even for the replacement of a single tooth requires reduction of the adjacent teeth as well. On the other hand, placement of dental implants does not require any preparation or reduction of the adjacent teeth, thereby preserving the natural tooth structure.
• Eat Any Food You Like – People who wear removable or fixed dentures have to avoid eating hard and sticky foods. This means they have to miss out on many of their favorite foods. After replacing your teeth with dental implants, you can enjoy all of your favorite foods without having the fear of breaking or dislodging your dentures.
• Improved Oral Hygiene – Maintaining optimal hygiene around dental bridges can be difficult as the bristles of the brush are unable to remove food particles from beneath them. As a result, additional oral hygiene measures may be required to achieve optimal dental health. Unlike dentures and bridges, you can clean your dental implants exactly the same way as you clean your natural teeth, allowing you to maintain excellent oral hygiene and physical health.
• Comfort – Dental implants are embedded within the jaw bone just like your natural teeth. When you replace a missing tooth with a dental implant, you get the same level of comfort, convenience and natural feeling as you have with your natural teeth.
How are They Placed?
Placement of dental implants is usually carried out in multiple stages. However, single step implant placement procedures are also gaining popularity. The following steps are involved in the placement of dental implants:
• Formulation of a Treatment Plan – Before placing an implant, your dentist will have a detailed look at your medical and dental records, followed by performing an extensive clinical examination of your oral cavity. This is done to make sure that you are a suitable candidate for getting an implant, and to prepare a treatment plan that is tailored according to your dental needs.
• Administration of Anesthesia – Since implant placement is a surgical procedure, your dentist will anesthetize the region where the implant is to be placed, so that you remain comfortable and pain-free throughout the procedure.
• Reflection of Soft Tissues – In the next step, your dentist will make an incision over the oral soft tissues, so as to expose the underlying jaw bone.
• Placement of the Implant – A hole is drilled inside the jaw bone, such that it is slightly narrower than the actual thickness of the implant. The implant is then carefully tapped or screwed into position by applying precise and controlled forces.
• Provision of a Prosthesis over the Implant- In case a two-step implant placement procedure is planned, a healing abutment is placed over the implant and the overlying soft tissues are sutured to allow healing of the surgical site. Once healing has taken place, the healing abutment is removed and a prosthetic is mounted to the implant. Alternatively, if immediate implant loading has been planned, a prosthetic is immediately placed over the implant.