More and more patients are choosing them because of their comfort and natural look.
While many people think of dental implants as a relatively new technology, they have actually been traced back to tooth-like pieces of shell that were attached to the jaw of a Mayan woman around about 1,400 years ago, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID). About 3 million people in the United States have had dental implants done, and the number is increasing by 500,000 each year, making the procedure extremely popular.
What Are Dental Implants?
Modern dental implants — artificial roots designed to support synthetic teeth — have been around for more than 30 years. When these roots, which are shaped like screws, are placed in a patient’s jawline, they bond with the natural bone and become a sturdy base to support one or more crowns (artificial teeth). A connector, known as an abutment, is placed on top of the implant to hold and support the crowns, which are custom-made to match the natural fit, feel, and color of the patient’s teeth.
Advantages of Implants
Dental implants are a popular alternative to dentures and bridges. Reasons include:
- Fixed bridges are supported by healthy adjacent teeth, which must be intentionally damaged and ground away so the bridge can be attached and supported.
- Bridges usually fail after five to 10 years because flossing around them is difficult, making the root surfaces below and around the device vulnerable to decay.
- While removable partial dentures don’t require intentional damage to the adjacent teeth, they are not as stable or comfortable as implants, and wearing them commonly affects the ability to speak and eat.
- Resin-bonded bridges look and function better than removable dentures, but don’t function or last as long as implants.
- Removable full dentures sit on top of the gums and are often uncomfortable, may distort the wearer’s sense of taste, and commonly shift and click in the mouth while the patient is speaking, eating, smiling, yawning, or coughing.
Dental Implant Procedure
The placement of dental implants typically involves the following steps:
- Examination. Your implant dentist will conduct a thorough examination of your mouth, including X-rays or 3D dental imaging, then will discuss your treatment options with you and develop a plan for your implants.
- Implant placement. At your next appointment, the dental implant will be placed in your jawbone where your teeth are missing. Although a local anesthetic is used during the procedure, afterwards you might experience swelling, bruising, minor bleeding, and pain, which typically can be managed with over-the-counter medications.
- Healing. As healing progresses over the next few months, your implant and jawbone with fuse together to form a strong, long-lasting foundation for your replacement teeth. This process is known as osseointegration.
- Abutment. After your implant and jawbone bond, a connector known as an abutment will be placed on the implant just above the gum line. Some patients are able to have their abutment placed at the same time as the implant.
- Impressions. After your gums have healed, your dentist will take an impression of your mouth and the remaining teeth to custom-make your replacement teeth, which will be attached to the abutment.
- Checkups. After your implant is complete, you’ll need to visit your implant dentist on a regular basis for followup checkups.
The entire implant process can take from three to nine months, depending on the number and type of implants and replacement teeth received.
Knights Family Dentistry offers placement and restoration of dental implants. To schedule an examination with a skilled dental professional, contact Knights Family Dentistry anytime.