For many patients, dental implants are a way to restore the look and function of their smile. This procedure has become a popular tooth replacement option in recent years.
Patients should be aware of these important facts about implants to determine if the procedure is the right choice for them.
The process of dental implants involves the surgical placement of an artificial tooth root, usually made of hypoallergenic titanium, into the parts of the jaw where there are missing teeth. The bone of the jaw fuses with the implant in a process known as osseointegration. This usually takes anywhere from four to six months and ensures the implant is sturdy and secure.
After osseointegration is complete, a connecting piece known as an abutment is placed on top of the implant for an artificial tooth to be attached to. The abutment may be placed at the same time as the implant or during a second surgery after the implant has fully healed.
Dental implants are the only replacement tooth treatment that functions like natural teeth. When tooth loss occurs and the root is no longer present, there is often bone density loss in the jaw that had previously supported the missing tooth. When the jawbone changes, this causes the mouth to change shape as well and can cause sagging, lines, and wrinkles around the chin and mouth. The post and crown that are placed with dental implants stimulate the jaw bone in the same way as a real tooth root, which can prevent bone loss and the resulting sagging.
Unlike traditional dentures, which have a tendency to slip and can require careful fitting, implants are permanently attached in place in the mouth. As a result, patients often notice a dramatic improvement in their speech and eating abilities and feel more confident. Dental implants also keep the mouth healthier and can preserve more of the patient's remaining teeth. They are intended to be a permanent treatment and with care can last for decades.
Patients with dental implants should be sure to practice proper oral hygiene habits to ensure the implant stays as healthy as possible. Dental implants are not susceptible to decay and disease as natural teeth are, but it is still important for patients to continue with regular brushing, flossing, and routine cleanings and checkups at the dentist to ensure the implants last and the gums stay healthy. Patients should also avoid eating certain hard and sticky foods to prevent damage to the implants; these foods include ice, hard candy, caramel, apples and hard-shell tacos.
Dental implants are a tooth restoration option that provide a natural, healthy-looking smile and can help to stop the development of complications such as bone loss and facial sagging. With proper care, patients can enjoy a beautiful and fully functioning smile throughout their lifetime.
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