Have you ever lost a tooth? Aside from being embarrassing and annoying, it can also throw your entire mouth out of whack. You’re meant to have all of your adult teeth – they allow your mouth to perform all the necessary functions correctly. Removing a tooth from the process can cause problems with your bite, and also leads to the decay of the underlying bone. Without the tooth there, the nearby bone starts to weaken and deteriorate, which in turn causes the nearby gum tissue to decrease as well. With time, the weakened mouth bones can lead to jaw bone decay as well. Suffice to say, you really need to do something about a missing tooth.
If you’ve merely had a tooth knocked out, it is entirely possible for a dentist to reattach it. But what if you’ve lost a tooth completely, and need to have it totally replaced? This is where a dental implant can be a lifesaver (or a mouth-saver, if you will).
A suitable replacement
So what is a dental implant? In short, it’s basically a replacement root for a tooth. But in practice, when we talk about dental implants, we’re usually referring to an entire tooth replacement, root and crown.
Almost anyone can get a dental implant, so long as they don’t have terrible oral hygiene or extensive damage caused by smoking or other medical conditions (like diabetes). Once your dentist has determined that you’re eligible for an implant, he or she will come up with a plan for your implant procedure.
Using high-speed drills, your dentist or oral surgeon will drill into the bone where your missing tooth used to be. They will then insert a titanium screw (the implant) into the hole. Once the screw is in place, the dentist will wait several weeks to allow the bone tissue to heal around the implant and create a strong, stable bond.
After the area has healed, the dentist will then place what is called an abutment on the screw (essentially a connector) so that a new crown can be installed on the implant. Your dentist can take an impression of your teeth to help them create the new crown, so that it will fit in just like the original tooth did.
Once your implant is in place, you can treat it just like the rest of your teeth. And with proper care, your implant has the potential to last as long as a permanent adult tooth.