Missing teeth cause a whole range of problems, ranging from issues with self-confidence to problems with jaw alignment and overall mouth function. If you have a missing tooth or teeth, you need to know about dental or tooth implants.
So, what is a dental implant?
Well, it consists of two parts and acts exactly like a regular tooth. The first part is a titanium post, that looks like a screw and serves as a root. The second part is the crown. This is made of porcelain, ceramic or composite and sits on top of the post. A crown looks exactly like a regular tooth.
The titanium is entirely biocompatible and designed to exist comfortably within your gum and jawbone.
Dental Implant Procedure
A dental or tooth implant procedure usually takes two appointments. In the first appointment the post is inserted into the jaw bone. In the second appointment, the crown is attached to the post. Here’s what you can expect:
- You will be placed under local anaesthesia before the post is inserted. It usually takes about three months for it to fuse with the jawbone. You will be given a temporary crown in between appointments. If the gum covers the post, it will have to be uncovered and a healing guard attached to allow for proper integration.
- Once the post has fused, you will come back for another appointment. This appointment consists of attaching the crown. The crown will have been custom-designed to match the shade and shape of surrounding teeth.
- Once the crown is attached, you have a dental implant that functions exactly like a regular tooth.
Why You Should Consider a Dental Implant Procedure
A dental implant is the most permanent and effective means of replacing a missing tooth. Unlike dentures or bridges, they don’t have to be removed when eating. You look after them just like you do the rest of your teeth.
There is also no need to alter surrounding teeth. This means that the overall structure of your mouth isn’t be affected during the procedure.
Most importantly, replacing your missing teeth saves the rest of your teeth by helping to displace force and prevent the rest of your teeth from shifting and affecting the shape of your jaw and face.
Caring For Your Tooth Implant
Looking after your dental implant or implants is as easy as looking after your regular teeth. You need to focus on:
- Following a rigorous at-home dental care regime. A good at-home regime will involve brushing and flossing every day and ensuring you keep the tissue around the implant free of bacteria and debris. Using Australian Dental Association-approved mouthwash is an excellent way to prevent any bacteria from settling.
- Visiting your dentist at least twice a year. This gives your dentist a chance to provide you with a regular, professional clean which is the only way of removing plaque and calculus build-up that leads to both gum disease and further tooth loss. While the implant itself is impervious to decay, the tissue around it could become diseased which can lead to the loss of implants.
Smoking inhibits the healing ability of your tissue. If you smoke and are considering an implant, this is another reason to quit this habit and ensure the success of your procedure.
Is a Dental Implant Procedure Right For Me?
A tooth implant is perfect for anyone with a missing tooth, but you do need a certain amount of gum health and jawbone density to actually support the titanium post. In some instances, your jawbone density can be enhanced with grafting procedures, and a Cone Beam CT scan can check on your specific density.
As mentioned above, smoking can impede the healing process which makes fitting the implant difficult. Chronic illness, like diabetes and osteoporosis, can also affect healing rates.
If any of these conditions affect you, it doesn’t mean you have to live with missing teeth. Dentures, bridges and other cosmetic dentistry methods offer effective tooth replacement without the requirement for gum health and bone density.
The fact that gum health and bone density are so important show just how vital a proper dental care routine is. Improper dental hygiene and infrequent visits to the dentist don’t just lead to missing teeth, they also limit your choices when it comes to replacing teeth.
If you want lifetime dental health, you need to do the work at home, and your dentist needs to be your greatest ally.