What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant consists of an anchor surgically implanted into the upper or lower jaw to create a sturdy anchor for the replacement tooth. It blends in with your existing teeth and feels secure when you eat and talk. Since it doesn’t rely on existing teeth for support, it will help protect your remaining teeth from damage and even help prevent bone loss. Once implanted, it should last the rest of your life.
How Do I Get One?
There are three main phases to getting an implant. Every implant is unique, depending on your anatomy and bone structure, the type of implant, and the tooth being replaced. The process usually occurs over several visits and can take up to a year to complete.
First, a specialist dentist surgically implants a post made of titanium and other biologically compatible materials into the upper or lower jawbone. There may be some pain and swelling, so you may be prescribed pain meds and a soft food diet while you heal.
Healing Process (Osseointegration)
Your body does the hard work! The bone of the jaw grows around the post as it heals, fixing it into place. This process is called osseointegration (OSS-ee-oh-in-te-GRAY-shun) and it can take up to several months. The strong bond that is formed during this process is the key reason the implant lasts for so long. The healing stage takes time - usually several months - and depends on the type of tooth being replaced, the type of implant, and your oral hygiene. Some people can have the implant and a temporary tooth replacement placed in one visit, while others may require months until a permanent replacement tooth is attached.
The third stage is the placement of a custom-made artificial tooth, called a dental crown. This tooth, made to match the size, shape, and coloration of your other teeth, will be attached to the titanium post implanted in your jaw during the first two steps. This process may take time, and you may need a temporary prosthetic, such as a crown, until it is ready.
What Are The Downsides?
Although a dental implant has many pros, there are some downsides. As with any surgery, there is a risk of infection or other surgical complications. The entire procedure takes a long time - as much as a year - and may not work as well for smokers or people with chronic diseases such as diabetes or autoimmune disease.
A single tooth dental implant is usually the best option to replace missing teeth. With a natural look and feel that can help restore self-confidence, speech, and chewing ability, it is a long-term solution that should last you the rest of your life. Talk to the experts at Artistic Smiles to find out more, or call (818) 930-5647 to book an appointment today!
For more information, check out our Dental Implant FAQ!