Of all the recent advancements in dental technology, perhaps nothing has had so much of an impact on oral health care overall as dental implants. Getting a dental implant is a lengthy process, but one that provides many advantages for the patient. An implant consists of a metal rod that is inserted into the jawbone of the patient. After a period of time – typically a few months – the metal fuses to the jawbone tissue, creating in effect an artificial tooth root. Once the implant is secure, the dentist affixes a natural-looking, durable artificial tooth (porcelain crown) to the top of the implant. The result is, quite literally, like getting a brand new natural tooth. Dental implants can be taken care of by simply brushing and flossing as usual, and they typically last for many, many years. In fact, if properly maintained, an implant can last for the entire lifetime of the patient!
Implants play an important role in a wide variety of dental procedures. Here are a few ways in which modern dentists are utilizing dental implants:
- Tooth replacement – As we mentioned earlier, a dental implant is often a great way to replace one or more missing teeth. People who choose not to replace missing teeth will eventually suffer the consequences of that decision as their other natural teeth begin to shift inside the mouth to fill in the gap left behind by the missing teeth. That can lead to a variety of other oral health issues.
- Bridges – Implants can provide a way to secure a dental bridge. A bridge is one of many methods to replace missing teeth. They consist of one or more porcelain crowns mounted on a metal frame. Before implant technology was commonly practiced, bridges were held in place by metal brackets on each end that attached to the patient’s natural teeth. But thanks to dental implants, a bridge can now be held in place whether the patient has teeth on either side or not. Instead of securing a bridge using natural teeth, the bridge can be attached to a dental implant on one or both ends of the bridge.
- Dentures – One of the most remarkable uses for implants are with implant-supported dentures. Rather than dentures simply sitting on top of the patient’s gums, dentures can now be securely locked into place use strategically placed dental implants. In some cases, these dentures are removable by the patient, while others are permanently fitted in the patient’s mouth. Either way, implant-supported dentures offer many advantages to the wearer, including the fact that this type of denture will never move or slip inside the patient’s mouth.
For more information about dental implants, and to find out whether or not they’re right for you, talk to your dentist.