Dental implants are posts (titanium screws) that are surgically placed in the jawbone. Through a process called osseointegration, they merge with the bone to provide a stable base for an abutment or post which will support a crown bridge, or denture.
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Implants are said to feel and function almost as if they were natural teeth, providing a great, permanent replacement option.Creative Commons
Dental implant parts
A tooth restoration in the form of an implant is composed of three main parts. Those are the fixture, the abutment, and the artificial tooth.
Also called an implant body or post, it goes into the hole in the gum where the tooth is missing. The implant post resembles a screw and it is the part that fuses to the bone. Placing this is a short surgical procedure.
After the fixture is in place, a healing cap is put in to make sure gums grow around it properly. The surgeon may wait 6-8 weeks before placing a healing abutment.
When the post and bone have fused, the gum will be opened up again to attach the abutment. It looks like a short, metal version of a tooth and it is screwed or cemented in place.
The dental implant screw acts as a connector between the post and crown or bridge.
Crown or bridge
A crown is used for single-tooth implants. It is the only part that is visible in the mouth once the restoration is complete. Gums grow around it, giving the tooth a natural appearance. It can be matched to the color and size of surrounding dentition for a fully customized look.
When having multiple teeth replaced, you will be fitted with an implant-supported bridge or denture.
What are dental implants made of?
The most common materials are titanium and zirconia. Your dentist will help decide which is right for you before scheduling your dental implant procedure.
Titanium dental implants have been used for decades. It is a biocompatible material, which makes it perfect for osseointegration. Titanium is durable, lightweight, and resists corrosion.
Implants made of titanium have a success rate of roughly 93%. Patients who have allergies should take the MELISA test to make sure the implant won’t cause any issues, although this rarely happens.
Ceramic dental implants require a higher level of expertise from the dental practitioner to place correctly. This is because they are less durable and come in one piece. The abutment and crown are made of zirconia, while the actual implant body is still titanium.
Zirconia implants are often marketed as more aesthetic. Such implants are tooth-colored, which makes them appear even more natural. Titanium rods can sometimes be slightly visible at the gumline.
Types of dental implants
Dental implants can be divided into three categories, depending on how many teeth they replace. You can restore a single tooth, multiple neighboring teeth, or have a full arch of artificial dentition.
If you are just missing one tooth, your implant will support one crown. It will still replace the root, which means bone will be stimulated. This is often recommended for front tooth replacement.
A single implant is a great alternative to a bridge, as it does not damage adjacent natural teethto mount the bridge. It stands on its own, providing the patient with full functionality and impressive aesthetics.
Multiple dental implants
An implant-supported bridge is a great option for those who are missing several neighboring teeth. This way no adjacent dentition needs to be shaved down in order to mount the restoration.
For multiple missing teeth you might require at least two implants. The final decision will be made by the dentist upon reviewing the situation in your mouth.
Full-mouth dental implants
It’s possible to replace all the teeth to give the patient a completely restored smile. Full-mouth dental implants are either permanent or removable. The first is usually mounted on 4 implants, like the All-On-Four. The second option, called denture implants, can sometimes be done with just 2.
If any teeth are remaining, they might be extracted. The artificial dentition is customized to fit the face and mouth, giving a natural look.
Dental implant procedure step-by-step
Getting a single implant can take as little as a couple hours or as long as two years. There are a few things that
indicate how long the whole thing takes:
- your general dental and gum health,
- the number of teeth you want to replace,
- which teeth you want to replace,
- whether you need extractions, and
- whether your jawbone requires grafting.
If you don’t need additional procedures and your oral health is up to par the implant process can take around nine months. There are solutions that give you one-day implants, but not everyone is a candidate for this.
Consultation and treatment plan
The first thing that happens when you start thinking about an implant is a consultation. It may take a few weeks to schedule. This visit may include X-rays and/or teeth impressions. It is not uncommon to see a few different specialists.
Your medical history will be reviewed. Make sure to disclose any underlying conditions and what medication you are regularly taking. If you are suffering from periodontitis, this should be treated before the process begins.
Tooth extractions and bone grafting are the most common procedures associated with dental implants. The latter may involve up to 12 months of healing. Neither might be necessary in your case, but it’s worth knowing what they are if it does come up during your consultation.
If you still have a tooth (or teeth) where you want the implant (or implants), an extraction will take place. Most often, though, dental implants replace missing teeth or dentition that is badly damaged.
Dental implant surgery
Your gum will be cut open to expose the bone. A drill will be used to make a small hole that will allow the titanium rod (implant) to be inserted. That can take up to a couple hours. You will leave the office with sutures and might have a separate appointment to remove them.
Osseointegration is the implant and bone fusing. The material of the rod is biocompatible, which means bone can grow into it. This is what makes dental implants such a durable solution.
The process takes three to six months on average, with up to seven for the upper jawbone. You will get a healing collar once this is complete. It is a piece of round metal that keeps gums from growing over the implant. It will stay on for 10-14 days.
The healing collar will be removed when the gums are finished recovering. The next step is placing the abutment, a piece of metal that will secure the crown (tooth cap), bridge, or denture. This can be “skipped” if this step takes place at the same time as the implant.
Despite the fact that recovery from this procedure takes only 2 weeks, you will have to wait about 6 for the next one. This is how long it takes to make a permanent crown. Until then, you might wear a temporary. Otherwise, the abutment will be visible in the tooth gap.
Installing artificial teeth
Impressions of your healed mouth will be taken and the artificial teeth will be made. The crown, bridge, or denture is placed, screwed, or cemented into the abutment. In the case of snap-in dentures, you will be able to remove it yourself for cleaning.
Pros and cons of dental implants
- Life-long solution
- Most durable tooth replacement option
- No issues with smiling, eating, or talking
- Stimulate the bone and prevent reabsorption
- High success rate
- Look just like natural teeth
- The process can be long
- Additional procedures might be necessary
- Some patients are allergic to titanium
Dental implants data and facts
- Implants fuse to the bone and stimulate growth, making your jaw stronger.
- Implants can’t get cavities.
- 3 million people in the US have dental implants, and 500,000 more are installed every year.
- Almost 90% of people can’t afford the cost of dental implants.
- The first successful dental implantation in a human was performed in 1965.
- Dental implants can be done in just one day.
- Studies show that smokers have a success rate of 84.2%, while for non-smokers it is 98.6%.
Find a dental implants dentist near you
With over 200,000 dentists available in the U.S., it’s not easy deciding who to trust when getting dental implants. New dentists offices are popping up literally every week. Don’t put your health and money at risk.
A dental implant surgery requires a lot of scientific knowledge and perfect manual dexterity. You want to work with a true dental professional who mastered this procedure to perfection and who is able to work with precision on an extremely small scale. Authority Dental can help. Check our new matching service and find the best dental implant dentist in your area.
How long do dental implants last?
If cared for properly, implants can be a lifelong solution and they are considered a fully permanent restoration. The crown might have to be replaced after about 15 years, but there is almost never a need to change the post. The first successful implant stayed in the patient’s body for over 30 years. He was able to take it to his grave.
Are dental implants safe?
Dental implants have an incredibly high success rate, about 93%. The method has only gotten better since 50 years ago when it was first conducted. There is little to no risk if the surgery is performed by an experienced specialist. Complications are rare, and mostly due to lack of patient compliance.
How long does a dental implant procedure take?
The surgery itself takes about two hours. The whole process including the initial consultation, extractions, bone grafting or sinus lifting, healing, restoration placement, and recovery can take about two years in total.
One-day dental implants are possible, but only the surgical procedures are done in one day. Sometimes you can walk out with a new set of teeth, but they are often temporary and have to be replaced with permanent ones about 6 weeks later.
When can you get an implant after losing a tooth?
If you have enough bone volume, an implant can be placed the same day your tooth falls out or is extracted. Dentists often recommend 3 to 6 months of healing nonetheless.
If you lost a tooth a long time ago, you are likely going to need grafting to make the bone thicker. It will ensure the base is stable enough to support an implant.
Does smoking affect dental implants?
Yes. Smoking is the number-one risk factor for implant loss when it comes to what patients can control. Tobacco use increases the risk of peri implantitis. This disease is responsible for loosening of the implant, making the jawbone no longer able to support it.
You should not smoke for at least 2 months after your placement surgery. The longer you abstain, the better.
E-cigarettes may be less damaging to your lungs, but they still contain nicotine. The substance works to constrict capillaries preventing proper blood flow. This can impair recovery and bone growth, both very important processes in implant placement.
Can you have dental implants if you have diabetics?
The best choice for diabetics are traditional dental implants. Mini or same-day implants are not recommended.
Dental implant survival in well-controlled diabetic patients is comparable to that of the general population. If you are on top of your disorder, it is not a contraindication. The success rate is similar to that of non-diabetics, about 96.4%-100%. This concerns both type I and type II diabetes.
Diabetics must go through an antibiotics course, but this is becoming a more and more popular practice among all patients. The process of osseointegration may be faster in healthy patients during the initial period.
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