“All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.”
Losing teeth is never fun, unless you are a kid and you know you'll get money for them. When you lose a baby tooth there is usually a permanent tooth waiting to grow in and take its place. For adults, losing a tooth or teeth is a very different story. Now, thanks to advances in dentistry, it is easier, less painful and less expensive than ever before to replace those missing teeth.
With today's dental implants, dentists can replace individual teeth, create bridges, or create denture supports that are more natural and better fitting than normal dentures. Implants are a great solution to tooth loss as they look and feel like your own natural teeth.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root surgically anchored into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Implant material is made from different types of metallic and bone-like ceramic materials compatible with your own body tissue.
Your dentist can advise you if you are a good candidate for dental implants. You must be in good health and have the proper bone structure and healthy gums for the implant to stay in place. If you suffer from chronic problems, such as clenching or bruxism, or systemic diseases, such as diabetes, the success rate for implants does decrease. Additionally, people who are excessive smokers or drinkers may not be good candidates.
Prior to surgery, it is recommended to have a 3-dimensional X-ray (CBCT scan) that will show your dentist the bone width and depth, nerve endings, and sinus location. This will help your dentist determine the proper placement of your implant(s). If there is a lack of bone support, there are procedures available to create a good implant site. For many who cannot wear dentures, dental implants are the perfect solution to their dilemma.
Depending on how many implants you need, the procedure could take up to a couple of hours. You will not feel any pain during the surgery and there is minimal post-operative discomfort. After the surgery, the jawbone needs to grow around the implanted anchor, a small post that acts as a root for the new artificial tooth. This could take up to six months for it to be stable and well healed.
Once it’s firmly in place and the gums have healed, the artificial teeth are made and fitted to the post portion of the anchor.
Once everything is in and healthy, you can show off your new smile. It is very important you take special care with your new implants. Like natural teeth, you must floss and brush around the implants at least twice a day. Hygiene appointments are needed to ensure healthy gums and a healthy mouth.
As with anything new, initially there may be slight discomfort and a difference in chewing or speech. Not to worry, your dentist will work with you to create an implant that fits well and is comfortable and attractive. Now don't forget to smile for the camera!
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.