A dental implant is a medical-grade metal post that’s implanted into the jawbone where it acts as an artificial root to secure a dental crown. The implant fuses with the natural bone tissue, providing a very secure anchor for the artificial tooth. This added security and the natural feel of dental implants have made them a very popular alternative to dentures and bridges for patients with one or more missing teeth.
The dental implant procedure usually takes three visits. During the first appointment, the metal post will be implanted into the jaw bone. Implants require sufficient bone to remain stable. In patients with thin or inadequate bone, a bone graft procedure can be performed to supplement the existing bone with a small sample of bone taken from elsewhere in the patient’s mouth or from a tissue bank. Digital x-rays can be used to determine if a graft is necessary, and they also aid in placing the implant so it’s secure. Once the implant post is in place, it will be left undisturbed for several weeks while the bone tissue fuses with the post. At the second visit, a second piece called an abutment will be attached to the post and an impression will be made and sent to a lab where the crown will be made. Once the crown is finished, the patient will return to the office and the crown will be attached to the abutment.
No, dental implants can be cared for just like natural teeth with brushing, flossing and regular trips to the dentist. Although the crown cannot develop a cavity, the gums around the implant can still become infected, just like the gums around natural teeth. Routine dental cleanings and checkups are important for keeping the implant secure and in good shape.
In addition to being more secure and natural-feeling compared to bridges and dentures, implant posts also stimulate the natural bone replacement cycle to help prevent additional tooth loss caused by bone atrophy.
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