Dental implants are medical devices surgically implanted into the jaw to restore a person’s ability to chew or their appearance. They provide support for artificial (fake) teeth, such as crowns, bridges, or dentures.
When a tooth is lost due to injury or disease, a person can experience complications such as rapid bone loss, defective speech, or changes to chewing patterns that result in discomfort. Replacing a lost tooth with a dental implant can significantly improve the patient’s quality of life and health.
Dental implant systems consist of a dental implant body and dental implant abutment and may also include an abutment fixation screw. The dental implant body is surgically inserted in the jawbone in place of the tooth’s root. The dental implant abutment is usually attached to the implant body by the abutment fixation screw and extends through gums into the mouth to support the attached artificial teeth.
Recommendations for Patients
Before choosing dental implants, talk to your dental provider about the potential benefits and risks, and whether you are a candidate for the procedure.
Things to consider:
- Your overall health is an important factor in determining whether you are a good candidate for dental implants, how long it will take to heal, and how long the implant may stay in place.
- Ask your dental provider what brand and model of dental implant system is being used and keep this information for your records.
- Smoking may affect the healing process and decrease the long-term success of the implant.
- The healing process for the implant body may take several months or longer, during which time you typically have a temporary abutment in place of the tooth.
After the dental implant procedure:
- Carefully follow the oral hygiene instructions given to you by your dental provider. Regularly cleaning the implant and surrounding teeth is very important for long-term success of the implant.
- Schedule regular visits with your dental provider.
- If your implant feels loose or painful, tell your dental provider right away.
Full dentures (sometimes called false teeth) may be used to restore the smile when all natural teeth have been lost. The denture looks like a full set of teeth mounted on an acrylic base made to look like gums. Dentures can be held in place with implants or by a seal that forms between the denture base and the gums with saliva, along with the muscles of your cheeks and tongue. Sometimes adhesives (or denture creams) may be used to help hold the denture in place.