Dental implants have been successfully used in dentistry for many years. Implants anchor prosthetic (artificial) teeth into the bone of the jaw and provide a very solid, secure replacement for missing teeth. Dental implants work by mimicking the structure of natural teeth. Like natural teeth, most dental implants are secured in the jaw bone. If your mouth is healthy, you’re likely a good candidate for dental implants. Successful dental implants become firmly attached to the bone in the jaw. If the quality or quantity of the bone in your jaw is not sufficient bone grafting or other options may be discussed.
Dental implants are often mistaken as individual teeth that are replaced in the jaw, in fact, they are individual fixtures that are made of titanium and are engineered to allow for various shapes and sizes and a design that allows the bone to grow into the fixture itself. Titanium is the metal of choice because it is well accepted by the body and once integrated it will stimulate continued bone growth in the jaw.
Implants can be utilized in a variety of treatment plans, some of which could include: replacement of a single tooth, or to provide support for a fixed bridge or denture. The number of implants placed will depend on the treatment plan.
The implant procedure first involves a comprehensive evaluation of the medical history, oral health, and supporting bone structures. A surgical procedure will be required for placement of the implant fixtures, with a healing period of 3-6 months to follow. The implants will be uncovered with the restoration process to follow. Completion of the case varies depending on the complexity of treatment.
Follow-up care for dental implants is similar to care for natural teeth. It is necessary to schedule regular appointments with the dental hygienist to have the implants cleaned. Special instruments are used for cleaning the fixtures so as not to scratch the titanium metal. A shorter recall schedule may be required initially until proper oral hygiene habits for implant care are established.