A dental implant can be used to replace a missing tooth, easily and permanently. Single-tooth implants are surgically placed in the location of the missing tooth. The implant is in the form of a titanium rod that takes the place of the missing tooth’s root. By filling in this space, the dental implant protects you from bone loss usually associated with the loss of a tooth.
Good candidates for dental implant surgery
This procedure is easily performed in people who have enough bone in their jaw for the placement of an implant. The bone needs to be strong enough to support the implant on all sides. If there is insufficient bone mass, dentists can perform procedures like bone augmentation or bone grafting. With bone augmentation, even people who have suffered bone loss or who do not have enough bone mass to support an implant can successfully undergo this treatment.
How do dental implants work?
The dental implant, which is made of titanium, is placed in the space left by the missing tooth. After a period of time necessary to allow the jawbone to fuse with the implant, the dentist places an abutment on top of the titanium rod. The abutment allows for the attachment of a crown shaped like a natural tooth. It is usually made of porcelain, which has been fused to a metal alloy for strength.
How much time does this process take?
The amount of time the process of a dental implant takes depends on many variables. Under the usual circumstances and with traditional techniques, the entire process will take between five and six months. If a bone graft or other support surgery is required, the process can take longer—sometimes, as much as a year.
A newer technique is now sometimes used for implants. It is a single-stage procedure, allowing the dentist to place the implant, abutment, and a temporary crown in one visit.
Preparing for the procedure
During the initial consultation, a dentist will do a comprehensive examination. They will take X-rays, make molds of your teeth and gums, and review your dental history. In some cases, the dentist will perform a computed tomography (or CT) scan of the patient’s mouth. The CT scan helps identify any possible complications, such as the patient having insufficient bone density to support the implant. If this is the case, options are available to correct the situation and the dentist can advise the patient accordingly.
The complete dental implant procedure
When a patient is deemed ready for the surgery, the dentist will perform the procedure by placing the implant in the jaw. After a period of time to allow for complete healing, the second surgery will take place. During the second surgery, the dentist will make an incision over the site of the implant and place a collar (called a healing cap) on top of the implanted titanium rod. This allows the gum tissue surrounding the implant to heal in the appropriate manner.
Once the gum tissue has healed—usually after about two weeks—the dentist will then replace the healing cap with a device called an abutment, which sits between the titanium rod and the final crown. With the abutment in place, the crown can be affixed to the abutment, and the procedure is complete.
Single-tooth replacement with dental implants
Dental implants are a wonderful option for anyone wanting to replace a missing tooth. The best way to explore your available options would be to schedule an initial consultation with a qualified dental professional in your area today.