Dental implants are a permanent tooth replacement method that closely resembles natural teeth. Not only is the top portion replaced but also the root that securely holds the tooth in place.
The ‘root’ is made of titanium and is designed to fuse to jaw bone as a secure foundation. Dental implants often look, feel and function like natural teeth.
Implants are made from titanium which is bio-compatible and can bond strongly to the living bone tissue. The bone tissue grows onto the surface of the implant. This is called osseo-integration and bio-integration. You may hear us use these terms.
When fixed firmly within the jaw bone, the implant will be strong enough to bear the daily forces of chewing and normal function. If the implant fails to integrate with the jaw bone, the implant will not be strong enough to withstand the forces of chewing and will require removal.
The number of implants inserted will depend on the prosthesis. For example, one implant is used to replace one missing tooth. Or for a complete upper prosthesis having 12 artificial teeth, six implants may be needed.
How it Works
To place an implant, we make an incision to open your gums. The implant will be inserted into the jaw bone using special techniques and instruments.
The incision will be closed either around a ‘healing abutment’ or completely closed with sutures. The bone surrounding the implant will be allowed to heal for up to 3 months.
We will then test the implant to see if it has properly integrated with the bone. This is important because the implants must be strong enough to support the prosthesis and withstand the forces of chewing and normal function. If the implants have been successful, we will begin work on the prosthesis. The prosthesis may be fixed to the implant with cement or screws so that it is not removable. Or it may be attached in a way that allows it to be removed for cleaning. These are called over dentures.
Cleanliness is crucial. Implants, prostheses, gums and remaining teeth must be thoroughly cleaned every day so they stay free of dental plaque. Constant attention to cleanliness will improve the chances of the implants being successful. Implant hygiene is a life-time commitment for you as the patient and us as your dental team.
Benefits of dental implants
- Improved Facial Appearance by helping to preserve integrity of facial structure
- Improved Comfort by eliminating irritation of removeable prosthesis.
- Eat better by restoring chewing efficiency
- Smile with confidence knowing that your teeth wont pop out or fall down
- Protect your remaining teeth knowing that implants need not interfere with them
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Just as you should visit your dentist twice a year, you should also aim to visit your hygienist every six months, unless directed otherwise.