Dental implants are a safe, reliable dental procedure for replacing one or more missing teeth. A dental implant is essentially an artificial tooth root that is permanently implanted in the patient’s jaw bone. Once the dental implant is in place, it can be used to anchor a single prosthetic tooth, a bridge with several teeth, or even a complete set of dentures.
Placement of dental implants is a surgical procedure that is accomplished over the course of several months. First, your dentist or oral surgeon will evaluate whether you are a good candidate for dental implants. If there is insufficient jaw bone for placement of the implants, bone grafts may be necessary and any periodontal disease will need to be addressed before placing the implant.
Next, the implant, a small titanium anchor, will be surgically placed in the patient’s jawbone. Implants can usually be placed using local anesthesia. Some patients may be more comfortable oral or intravenous sedatives.
After the implant is placed, the site will be allowed to heal for several months which allows the implant sufficient time to fuse to the bone. Once the implant site has fully healed, your dentist will use the implant to restore your missing tooth or multiple teeth. For a single tooth, a post (called an abutment) is screwed into the implant and a crown is glued to the abutment in a manner similar to placing a crown on a natural tooth.
If several adjacent teeth are restored, the process is similar to placing a permanent bridge. The bridge consists of a metal frame that supports the artificial teeth. At each end of the bridge is a crown that is cemented to an abutment which has been screwed into an implant. If the implants are to anchor a set of full dentures, special posts will be threaded into the implants and the denture will be snapped into place on these posts.
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