What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is surgically placed into your jaw by your dentist. This "root" is able to support a tooth replacement, such as a dental crown, dental bridge, or dentures.
Together, a dental implant and a tooth replacement look and act very much like a natural tooth.
A dental implant has two pieces: a titanium rod that is placed into the jaw bone and functions like the root of the tooth, and an abutment that screws into the rod, and ultimately supports the artificial tooth replacement.
The Dental Implant Procedure
The dental implant procedure generally takes three to six months to complete. Your dentist will be able to provide a more specific timeline based on your needs and treatment plan.
Typically, the procedure will take two appointments to complete. During the first visit, the dentist will begin the implant procedure by surgically placing the titanium rod into your jaw bone beneath the gum tissue. Then they will stitch the gum tissue back into place.
During the healing process, the implant will bond with the bone and attach to the gum. The healing process could take up to several months.
Once healed, you will return to the dentist so they can attach the abutment to the rod. They will then attach a tooth replacement to the abutment.
In some cases, your jaw bone might not have enough density to support the dental implant. In this situation, your dentist may recommend a bone graft surgery so that the implants can be placed later.
Does the dental implant procedure hurt?
Many patients wonder if the dental implant procedure will be painful. While every patient has a different pain threshold, most patients report only minor discomfort during and after the operation. You'll have the opportunity to discuss anesthesia options with your dentist and plan your procedure based on your preferences.
Typically, dental implant placement is completed using local anesthesia.
Why use a dental implant?
If you're missing one or more teeth, dental implants can be used to address a number of issues and protect your oral health.
By using a dental implant and a tooth replacement such as a dental bridge, dental crown or dentures, you can prevent surrounding teeth from shifting, restore any jaw pain or bite issues, and even improve chewing, speech and digestion. Having this procedure can also help avoid the appearance of a 'sunken face' that can often occur with missing teeth.
How long will my dental implant last?
When cared for properly, a dental implant can last 25 years or more. It will be essential to practice proper at-home oral care, including brushing and flossing, and scheduling regular dental exams and cleanings with your dentist. Other factors that can impact the longevity of dental implants include nutrition, genetics, or the development of any dental diseases.