What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are replacements for the root of the tooth that are placed in the jaw to serve as an anchor for replacement teeth. Dental implants are a long-term option made up of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body used to replace missing teeth.
What Are the Types of Dental Implants?
There are two main types of dental implants:
- Most commonly used type of dental implant
- Placed in the jawbone
- Usually made of titanium and shaped like small screw
- Placed under the gum but on, or above, the jawbone
- Used in patients who do not have enough healthy natural jawbone and cannot, or do not want to, undergo a bone augmentation procedure to rebuild it
How Do Dental Implants Work?
An implant is surgically placed into the jawbone. The bone around the implant heals (osseointegration) and the bone actually grows around it and holds it in place. This is what makes dental implants so strong. Osseointegration can take several months for the implant to become completely integrated before replacement teeth are attached to the implant. (In some cases, the implants and replacement teeth may be placed in the same visit).
For a single tooth implant, the dentist customizes a new tooth for the patient (a dental crown). The crown is based on size, shape, color, and fit, and is designed to blend in with the rest of the teeth. If more than one tooth is being replaced, custom-made bridges or dentures are made to fit the mouth and implants.
Replacement teeth can take time to produce and patients may be given a temporary crown, bridge, or denture to help with eating and speaking while they wait for the permanent replacement.
What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?
Advantages of dental implants include:
- They are secure and stable after they have healed
- They are low maintenance
- They last a long time: when cared for properly, dental implants last between 10 to 15 years
- They do not need the teeth around them to provide support
- They do not damage surrounding teeth over time
What Are the Downsides of Dental Implants?
Downsides, or disadvantages, of dental implants include:
- Not everyone is a good candidate for this type of procedure
- Implants require healthy bones
- Dental implants can be expensive, as much as two to five times more than bridges and dentures
- Not all insurance plans cover dental implants
- The process of getting dental implants takes longer to complete than other options
- Because it is a surgical procedure, there is a small risk of infection and disease