Dental Implants: Your Ultimate Guide
If you’re missing one or more of your teeth, you’re not alone. Approximately 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth and up to 36 million Americans don’t have any teeth at all. While missing a tooth can certainly be an aesthetic problem (about 32% of people say they’re concerned by the look of their teeth), it can also be a potential health issue.
The good news is that dental implants can help restore your smile and the function of your teeth. But what exactly is a dental implant? How does it work? And what do you need to know to feel comfortable getting one? Here’s everything you need to know about dental implants.
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a replacement tooth made up of a metal post and an artificial cap. The metal post replaces the missing root of your tooth while the crown replaces the actual top of the missing tooth. Dental implants are a highly effective method to replace one or more missing teeth and are considered permanent prostheses.
What Does a Dental Implant Procedure Involve?
Dental implant procedures are typically done in multiple parts because they require healing time between procedures. During the day of your initial surgery, your oral surgeon will expertly make an incision into the gum to access the jaw bone. A hole (or holes if you’re receiving multiple implants) is drilled into the jaw bone to serve as the socket for the new tooth root.
Once the hole has been created, the titanium implant is placed in the jaw bone. Over the next few months, your dentist and oral surgeon will wait for your jaw bone to naturally grow around the implant. This is a process called osseointegration and it provides your implant with a strong base, securing your dental implant in your mouth just like your natural teeth.
Once your mouth and jaw bone have successfully healed, your dentists will place the abutment. The abutment is the artificial “top” of the tooth where your crown will be attached. This procedure typically involves minor surgery under local anesthesia. Your oral surgeon will need to reopen the gum where the titanium post has healed and attach the abutment to the “root.”
Once the abutment has been successfully attached, you’ll need to wait for your gum tissue to heal around the abutment. After your gums have healed, your dentist will attach a crown to the abutment that matches the color and bite of your other teeth.
Is a Dental Implant Procedure Painful?
While the healing process after your procedure may be uncomfortable, you won’t be in any pain during your procedure. Dental implant surgery is considered an invasive procedure and patients are sedated under local anesthesia during the process. The same is true during the minor surgery involving the attachment of the abutment to the implant. If you’re uncomfortable after surgery, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers to help reduce pain and inflammation.
Why Is a Dental Implant a Good Decision?
Many people who are missing a tooth or multiple teeth choose to get dental implants for many reasons. First, because the implant is permanent, patients don’t need to regularly apply a denture. Additionally, because the implant is attached to your jaw bone, it doesn’t slip while you’re speaking or eating.
Dental implants perform and look just like natural teeth, which can be especially great for eating food. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to eat healthy, balanced meals with missing teeth or dentures because you can’t bite or chew quite like you used to. With a dental implant, you can confidently bite into an apple without worrying about your denture coming loose.
Finally, because dental implants are permanent, patients don’t need to regularly come into their dentist’s office to make adjustments, re-lines, and replacements. At most, you may need your crown replaced due to wear and tear or an accident.
Interested in Learning More?
If you’re missing a tooth or multiple teeth and you’re interested in learning more about dental implants and how they can restore your smile, consider making an appointment with your local dentists at Railroad Dental Associates. We’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about dental implants and other dental procedures.