Dental implants are the newest, most effective way to replace missing teeth. They look and feel like the original tooth and make eating, talking, and smiling comfortable. Implants are preferred because they do not damage or affect any of the surrounding teeth or tissues.
Dental implants may be recommended if a tooth has extensive decay and is lost or if a tooth is knocked out in an accident. Implants may also be used for children with congenital conditions that include missing teeth. In most situations in which a tooth is missing and cannot be saved, an implant can provide a permanent replacement.
To place implants, the dentist must place an anchor in the jawbone to act as the “root” of the new tooth. A post is attached to the anchor to hold the new, artificial tooth. The anchor and post are generally made of titanium and are very strong. Once the bone grows around the implant and it is secure, the dentist will cement the new tooth (crown) to the post. This may be done for single or multiple teeth.
In some cases, dental implants may replace a partial removable denture because the implants are stronger and less likely to move or break during normal wear. Implants are also used for cases in which the patient has no teeth or wears full dentures. Full dentures can often become loose in the mouth and be uncomfortable and irritate gums. Dental implants may be used to replace some of the teeth and support a bar or fixed bridge. This will prevent jaw shrinkage and bone deterioration sometimes seen in long-term denture wear.
Traditional dentures, held in place with an adhesive, may prove difficult to wear and slip in the mouth. This can cause irritation to the gums and an inability to chew effectively. Dental implants may be used to secure full dentures, assuring the patient stability and efficacy of the denture.