Dental implant look and function like your natural teeth. An oral surgeon or periodontist will place a metal implant post underneath your gums into the jaw bone. Sometimes this can be done at the time of extraction; other times the extraction site needs to heal for a period of time prior to implant post placement. Up to six months may be required for the bone to grow around the anchor and firmly hold it in place. Then your general dentist will take an impression and fit an abutment in the shape of your tooth to the implant. This abutment will be secured to the implant via a screw. Next an implant crown will be fitted and cemented onto the abutment. This crown will look and function naturally in your mouth. The entire process, depending on the specific circumstances, can take anywhere from 6-12 months.
An implant is considered the most conservative treatment to replace a missing tooth. Implants, however, are not an option for everyone. Patients must be in good health overall and have healthy gums. The patient must have sufficient bone to support an implant or we must have the ability to place a bone graft to make the area strong enough. Patients need to be committed to maintaining good oral hygiene, including regular professional cleanings and exams along with not smoking to keep implants healthy.
Advantages of implants
- Look and function like real teeth
- Adjacent teeth do not have to be involved in the placement procedure
- Minimize future jawbone shrinkage
- No need to remove from the mouth for cleaning
- Cost is higher than the alternative options