Dental implants are a relatively new and exciting dental treatment. You may have heard about dental implants in the news or from from friends. Here is a short introduction to dental implants that may answer some of your questions.
What are dental implants?
The dental implants in use today are called endosteal, root form implants. That means they are placed into the jaw bone, and are generally shaped like tooth roots. They come in various sizes and lengths to allow for placement in various positions in the mouth and in different bone types. The are made of titanium – a very strong metal that is compatible and allows for osseointegration. The jaw bone actually grows into small grooves in the implant and holds it in place.
What are dental implants use for?
Implants are use to retain or support a dental prosthesis (replacement teeth). This is done in several ways.
1. Replace 1 tooth:
When a single tooth is lost, and implant is placed in the bone where the tooth used to be. Sometimes, this can be done at the same time the tooth is extracted. After a healing period of several months, the top of the implant is uncovered. The dentists selects an appropriate abutment, which will be attached to the implant and will support the new tooth. A model of the mouth is made and sent to the dental laboratory, where the new tooth is made. The dentist then places the new tooth onto the implant.
2. Replace a few teeth:
This is done in a manner very similar to replacing one tooth. However, when a few teeth are being replaced, there does not need to be an implant for every tooth. The dentists can make a bridge, that has some teeth on the implants, and others connected to those teeth. The dentist and surgeon will determine the appropriate number of implants.
3. Replace all teeth:
Sometimes, all the teeth in a patients upper or lower jaw must be replaced. There are a few approaches to dealing with this with implants.
– Traditional fixed bridges.
The implants are place exactly where the teeth used to be. The prosthesis is a bridge that is placed over the implants. These teeth cannot be removed by the patient.
– Hybrid prosthesis
The implants are placed where they are most likely to integrate with the bone and can best support the prosthesis. The prosthesis replaces missing teeth and missing gums.
The dentist attached the prosthesis to the implants. These teeth cannot be removed by the patient.
- Implant retained overdenture.
A traditional removable denture is made, but is does not rely on the patient’s gums to hold it in place. It is held in place by small snaps that attach to 2 implants in the patient’s mouth. These dentures stay in very well, but are removable by the patient.