Missing teeth, while causing people to feel self conscious about their appearance, also interfere with food chewing. Traditionally, dentists have turned to crowns and bridges mainly as a cosmetic fix but over several decades now have been turning to implants as a solution, either to replace single teeth or to help support other structures such a bridges and dentures.
Implants actually fuse to your bone, making them more stable than crowns and bridges. Patients with implants often express a preference for the way they feel and find chewing with them more natural because the integration of the tooth into the jaw makes or a more secure fit that can withstand greater pressure and grinding action.
Achieving this superior effect involves a series of simple procedures over a period of time. The first step is to place an anchor — or, in some cases, an anchor an prosthetic tooth-supporting post — in the jaw and then allow up to six months for the bone to grow around it to secure it in place. This anchor acts just as your natural tooth roots do, fusing an artificial tooth to your jawbone.
Once the gums have healed, custom artificial teeth, or crowns, are made and fitted to the anchor and post. It may take more that one appointment to get this last step just right.
General or local anesthesia — or a combination of the two — may be used to make you more comfortable during these procedures. And, some special hygiene care both at home and in the dentist’s office will be prescribed to aid in healing and comfort, which could include the administration of antibiotics and pain-relief medications. With proper hygiene, complications are rare.
Some people who suffer from gum disease or other oral health afflictions are not good candidates for implants. And, while most people can undergo implant procedures in their dentists’ office, certain at-risk patients are referred to a hospital for more intensive anesthesia, specialized monitoring and longer-term medical observation. Your dentist will be able to assess you for risk factors and recommend which route you should take.
For more information on dental implants, visit www.ada.org.
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