Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth. Unlike dentures, implants are fused directly to the jaw bone, giving the prosthetic teeth fitted to the implants stability and strength.
Despite the advantages, dental implants aren’t for everyone. You have to consider how invasive the procedure is, the state of your bone structure and your budget. After giving these things some thought, you might realize that other replacement methods might suit your more.
To help you figure out if they’re right for you, we’ve discussed everything you need to know about dental implants. We go over how implants are made, how they’re fitted as well as the different types of implants.
What are Dental Implants made of?
The purpose of dental implants is to replace a tooth by surgically attaching an artificial root to the jaw bone. A prosthetic crown is then fitted on top of this root, mimicking the look and function of natural teeth.
Because of titanium’s biocompatibility, it is often the material of choice for dental implants. Titanium’s corrosion resistance allows it to withstand the bodily fluids that it will inevitably come into contact with.
The crown itself can be made of metal, ceramic, acrylic or resin. The choice of material will usually depend on the user’s practical and stylistic preferences. Metal crowns are more durable, but provide little aesthetic value. Acrylics, on the other hand, are aesthetically pleasing but don’t provide the same strength and durability as its metal counterparts.
How are they Fitted?
Before anything else, the dentist will take a number of scans to assess the current condition of your teeth. These preliminary scans will allow the dentist to accurately place the implant into your jaw. It will also enable them to see any issues that need to be addressed before the implant is fitted. For example, if your bone structure is damaged, you might need to get a bone graft before they can attach the implants.
Once the implant is attached to your jaw, the dentist will then leave it for several months to allow the bones and tissue to grow around it. During this healing period, a temporary crown will be used to cover up the implant. After the implant is secure, the permanent crown will finally be fitted.
Usually, one implant is used to replace a single tooth. However, if you need more than one tooth replaced, you can have a bridge of teeth fitted instead. A bridge is a row of prosthetic teeth stuck together. Instead of having a single implant for each tooth, the dentist will simply attach two implants at both ends of the bridge. This method is more efficient and less costly.
One of the biggest advantages of getting dental implants is the natural look. If you don’t tell anyone about the procedure, it’s likely that no one will notice. This is a far cry from dentures which often don’t fit your mouth exactly. This changes the structure and look of the face, which can make some people self-conscious.
Dental implants are also great from a practical standpoint. In terms of function and maintenance, there is virtually no difference between implants and natural teeth. You can eat like normal, talk like normal, floss like normal and so on. Also, it only takes a couple of weeks for you to get used to it. The best part is, implants can last for decades or even a lifetime.
Dentures on the other hand have different cleaning requirements. In addition to brushing them, you will also have to soak them in a denture cleanser overnight. You have to be careful when taking them out, as mishandling dentures can damage the plastic. Because it’s not attached to your jaw, the mouthpiece can easily slip when you’re eating or talking.
Overtime, having dentures can cause your gums and jawbone to deteriorate. Without a natural tooth to keep the density of the structure, the alveolar bone eventually resorbs (reabsorbs) into the body.
Different Types of Implants
To help you choose the right replacement for you, here are two of the more common dental implant types.
- Endosteal Implants
If you’re getting implants, you’re likely going to be getting endosteal implants. They are individual metal roots that are surgically attached directly to the jaw bone. After they’ve been fitted, the surrounding tissue is given time to heal.
Once the original implant is secure, an abutment (a connecting element) is attached through a second surgery. Lastly, the prothstetic is crown is placed on top.
- Subperiosteal Implants
Instead of individual metal rods, these subperiosteal implants are made of a single metal frame that sits below the gums but above the jaw bone. Only the abutment will stick out of the tissue, allowing the crowns to be placed on top.
That was just a quick overview on dental implants. They have a lot of benefits that can improve aspects of your everyday life. If you feel that you can benefit from them, we recommend consulting your dentist or a health professional. Although implants might seem convenient to you, you must consider your health and safety first. This procedure is quite invasive (and expensive). As a result, it’s important to consider all your options before making a commitment.