A dental implant is an artificial tooth and root that is placed in the mouth and fused with the jawbone to create a new functioning tooth. Implants improve the stability of existing dentures as well as slow the process of bone resorption. They are made of a titanium metal post, which serves as the root and a bone-like ceramic tooth.
Is a Dental Implant Right for You?
Your dentist will examine your teeth and jaw to determine if you are a good candidate. Dental implant surgery may be right for you if the following is true.
- Missing teeth
- A fully grown jaw
- Are not willing or able to wear dentures
- Want improved speech
- Have healthy oral tissues (Source: Mayo Clinic)
Related article: Why You Should Replace Missing Teeth
Types of Dental Implants
The most common type of dental implant is an endosteal implant. This procedure involves placing the artificial root into the bone where the bone can then slowly heal around it and fix it into place. This healing process is called osseointegration and may take between two and six months. After this period of bone growth, your dentist will be able to place the artificial tooth on top of the implant.
The second type of implant is the subperiosteal implant, in which the implant is placed on or above the jawbone, rather than in it. This surgery is for patients whose jawbone is not healthy enough to undergo an endosteal implant.
Complications of Dental Implant Surgery
There are a few potential issues to consider before committing to dental implants.
- If your jawbone height is not adequate, you may need bone augmentation, ridge expansion, or sinus lift.
- Chronic illnesses such as diabetes and leukemia can slow the healing process and lower the chance of a successful implant.
- If your jawbone is too soft, you may need a bone graft.
- Smoking, chewing tobacco, and chewing ice or hard candy can damage the implant.
- Infection is possible if you do not maintain good oral hygiene.