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Dental implants are restorative dental devices that dentists surgically insert into your jawbone to replace missing teeth. They consist of titanium or zirconium oxide posts attached to an abutment. The posts act like your tooth’s root, while the abutment holds a prosthetic tooth that replaces your natural tooth. Dental implants are permanent, typically lasting for 20 to 30 years before they need replacement by your dentist.
The dentist will first have to determine whether you're a suitable candidate for dental implants. During the consultation, the dentist will ask you questions about your medical and dental history. They will take X-rays of your mouth and conduct dental tests like TMJ tests and others to determine your candidacy for the procedure.
If deemed fit for the procedure, the dentist will create a treatment plan for your implants. The treatment plan will include the number and type of implants, the treatment dates, and the duration of the treatment.
The implant placement is the most important step in the implant treatment process. The dentist will make an incision on your gum tissue to expose the bone. They’ll then drill a small hole into the jawbone before carefully inserting a titanium post into the hole and suturing the gum tissue. Over the next few months, the jaw bone will fuse into the post via a process called osseointegration.
Once the gums heal and the posts sufficiently osseointegrate, the dentist will schedule an abutment placement appointment. This appointment involves installing the abutment on the titanium post and placing the prosthetic restoration on top of it. The dentist will then release you with instructions for caring for your dental restoration.
Single-tooth implants, as the name implies, are dental implants for replacing a single missing tooth in the gums. The implant consists of a single titanium or zirconium post with an abutment and a restoration tooth on top of it.
An implant bridge is a type of bridge that uses dental implants inserted into the patient’s jawbone as a base. The bridge consists of prosthetic teeth that bridge the gap formed by missing teeth on the jaw. The implants are strategically placed to provide sufficient support to the bridge.
Overdentures are removable dentures that sit on top of the gum but use dental implants as anchor points. The implants are drilled into the jawbone and protrude slightly to allow the overdentures to snap into place when placed on top of the implants.
All-on implants are implants where all the missing teeth in the upper or lower jaw are replaced by prosthetic teeth strategically held in place by a specific number of implants. Here, four or six implants distributed across the jaw anchor all the prosthetic teeth on the jaw.
Although considerably invasive, dental implants don't hurt because the dentist will administer local anesthetic to numb the affected region. Patients will experience mild discomfort and pain after the procedure that dissipates in a few weeks. Meanwhile, the dentist will prescribe OTC painkillers to alleviate the pain.
Anyone with reasonably good health (general and dental) is a good candidate for dental implants. However, patients with insufficient jaw bone might need bone and gum tissue grafting before they proceed. Alternatively, they could settle for zygomatic implants that are attached to the cheekbone instead.