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Dental Implant Technology Can Help You Regain Your Smile
Single-tooth implants can be used in people who are missing one or more teeth. An implant is surgically placed in an opening that is made by your dentist in the jawbone. After the implant integrates (attaches) to your bone, it acts as a new “root” for the crown that will be replacing your missing tooth. A crown (cap), which is made to look like a natural tooth, is attached to the implant and fills the space left in the mouth by the missing tooth.
For this procedure to work, there must be enough bone in the jaw, and the bone has to be strong enough to hold and support the implant. If there is not enough bone, it may need to be added with a procedure called bone augmentation. In addition, natural teeth and supporting tissues near where the implant will be placed must be in good health.
How Does It Work?
An implant-restored tooth consists of several parts.
The implant, which is made of titanium, is placed in the upper or lower jawbone
The abutment can be made of titanium, gold or porcelain. It is attached to the implant with a screw. This part connects the implant to the crown.
The restoration (the part that looks like a tooth) is a crown, usually made of porcelain fused to a metal alloy (PFM), but also could be an all-metal or all-porcelain crown. The crown is attached either to the abutment or directly to the implant. It can be screwed or cemented onto the abutment. If the crown is screwed to the abutment, the screw hole will be covered with restorative material such as tooth-colored filling material (composite).
The Implant Process
The process can take up to nine months to complete. Each patient heals differently, so times will vary. After the implant and posts are placed surgically, the healing process can take up to six months and the fitting of replacement teeth no more than two months. Sometimes, if a patient has good bone quality, posts can be placed and replacement teeth fitted in one appointment.
Caring For Your Implants
You care for your implants the same way you care for your natural teeth. It is important to brush and floss daily. You will need to visit your dentist every three months for checkups at first, but eventually you can have checkups every six months.
Studies so far have shown that with proper care these implants can last as long as 25 years.
What Is the Cost of Implants?
Since implants involve surgery and are more involved, they cost more than traditional bridgework. However, some dental procedures and portions of the restoration may be covered by dental and medical insurance policies. A periodontist can help you with this process.