To be missing is to become aware of an absence. We immediately notice that something is not quite right, when a picket fence is missing a plank of wood. We lose the ability to type without restraint if not all the letters are functioning on a keyboard. There are times when losing a tooth leaves more than just a gap. When it means that we cannot eat the same way we once could, or smile the way that we once used to. It summons a compromised ability that was once not given a second thought. Yet the ability to chew well and smile freely brings us some of the greatest joys in life. Being the closest resemblance to a natural tooth, dental implants introduce the ability to make what it noticeably missing, unnoticeable once again. Nothing in the world will bring back a tooth once it has gone. However, the opportunity to best regain what that the tooth once did, has been made possible with dental implants. These are some important things you need to know about implants in dentistry.
They do more than just fill in a space
The technical components of a single implant work with the human body to best simulate what a tooth does. The implant itself, made of titanium, can be incorporated into the jawbone, as bone growth is promoted around the implant. Essentially it is acting as the root of a tooth. The attachment of an implant crown, made of ceramic, closely resembles what a natural tooth looks and feels like in the mouth. This is what sets an implant apart from a removable partial denture, which only fills in space, and takes some getting used to wearing in the mouth.
They preserve bone
Bone growth is promoted where implants are placed. Once a tooth is lost, the bone surrounding it shrinks down. A drawback to missing multiple teeth in particular, is that this bone loss can start to become noticeable in the face. Bone loss can alter the face shape and profile to become less youthful in appearance. The placement of a dental implant preserves the bone in that area and therefore retains the bone structure of the face.
They need to be accepted by the body
Implants work with the human body, and therefore, success is dependent on the body to be able to accept them. The assessment of each individual prior to planning for implants is critical to success. The bone quality and quantity is a critical factor in the assessment. Bone that is denser, that heals quickly and is free from sources of infection is going to accept dental implants much more readily, and has a much better prognosis for success. Where there is insufficient bone, there may be an additional surgical step required prior to implant placement. Good overall health is essential, as well as optimum dental health. The ability to take care and maintain the implants is paramount to their success. Implants are just as, if not more, susceptible to periodontal disease as natural teeth and this is a common reason why they can fail. Therefore regular follow-up care with the dentist and hygienist once the treatment is complete is essential.
They can be used strategically
Implants can be strategically placed in a way that engineers the replacement of multiple units of teeth. For areas where more than a single tooth is missing, implants can be 'bridged' to minimise the need for too many implants to be placed in one area. They can also be used to hold dentures. This allows more stability and therefore more confidence when chewing, smiling and talking for denture wearers. Implants provide the flexibility to re-create what has been lost, no matter the extent of that loss. Placing them in this way also saves on cost, the extent of surgery required, and the complexity of the treatment.
It is a process
The placement of implants is a highly specialised and technical surgical procedure that requires plenty of planning and care. It is involves communication between the dentist, the lab technician, and usually a specialist or dentist with special training. Consideration to exactly where in the jawbone the implant is placed needs 3D imaging and the aid of surgical guides to be placed with precision. Whether the implant is placed immediately at the time of a tooth being removed, or after, there is a 3-month period required for the bone to grow around the implant. If the tooth is removed first, it takes approximately 3 months for the bone to finish changing before an implant can be placed. Therefore it is common to need to wear a temporary denture until the bone has finished growing around the implant before it can be restored for function.