If you are missing one or more teeth, your dentist has the option of using traditional methods like crowns, bridges and dentures to replace them. He also can use dental implants, which are essentially replacement tooth roots. Implants are used in conjunction with crowns and bridges to provide a solid permanent foundation for tooth replacements.
Dental implant surgery is done by an oral surgeon and generally involves the following steps:
An Individualized Treatment Plan – This is a plan drawn up by a team of specialists that addresses the patient’s specific needs. The entire process can take as long as six months.
Placement of the Root Implant – A small incision is made in the gums and a small post, usually made of titanium, is inserted into the bone socket of the missing tooth. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the metal post, anchoring it securely to the jaw. The healing process can take three months or longer.
Abutment Attachment – Once the implant is fully bonded to the jawbone, another post called an abutment is attached to the post. The abutment will hold the new tooth, be it a bridge, crown or partial denture. Once the abutment is placed, the gums will then have to heal before a new tooth is put in place.
New Artificial Teeth – There are two basic types of artificial teeth: those that can be removed and those that cannot. Removable teeth are usually less expensive and a good option if you have several teeth together that need replacement. Non removable teeth, on the other hand, are good for individual tooth replacement. If money is no object, you could have multiple implants with multiple individual crowns.
Risks and Recovery – Expect to experience minor pain and discomfort for several weeks following each step of the procedure. As with any surgery, there are certain risks, such as excessive bleeding or infection. If any such problem occurs, you should consult your dentist immediately.
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