Tooth loss following sports injuries, accidents, and periodontal disease has historically been treated with dental inserts or bridges that are placed over the gap and secured to adjacent teeth. Although overall rates of tooth loss have declined over the past few decades, periodontal disease affects nearly half of North American adults and tooth loss is still common. The first step in maintaining strong and healthy teeth should always be preventative care. However, when needed, modern treatments for tooth loss can offer more permanent solutions that replicate the look and function of real teeth. This more natural result is achieved through dental implants that are rooted in the gums rather than attached superficially.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is still an artificial tooth, but it includes a titanium metal root that is secured into the jawbone as an anchor, with the tooth attached to the top. If several teeth in a row need to be replaced, a line of teeth can be placed with implants on each end.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
Dental implants look and act like regular teeth and have several benefits:
- The titanium anchors are lightweight, strong, and biocompatible, which means that they are not rejected by the body. Titanium also fuses with the jaw bone, allowing it to replace the former root structure.
- The titanium anchor helps preserve jaw structure. With a bridge, some of the bone that previously surrounded the tooth can start to deteriorate, but dental implants help maintain the bone shape and density. This means the facial structure and soft tissue are better supported.
- Dental implants preserve the health of neighboring teeth, compared to bridges that require adjacent teeth to be ground down to support the bridge.
- Implants can be easier to keep clean than a bridge because there are no superficial structures added to the mouth.
How are dental implants done?
- Your family dentist will perform an exam and x-rays to confirm if you are eligible for the procedure.
- During the first stage of treatment, the dental implant is placed into your jawbone beneath the gum tissue. While the tissue heals, the anchor bonds with the bone.
- After the implant is anchored, a small post is added to the top of the implant to connect the artificial tooth.
- During the last stage, the artificial tooth is made, fitted, and attached.
The procedure for dental implants often takes several visits to your dentist and check-ups should be continued regularly afterwards. Like natural teeth, implants need to be properly cleaned and cared for. Speak to your dentist during your next visit to learn more about dental implants and other cosmetic dentistry and restorative treatments.