Tooth loss begets more tooth loss. When a tooth is removed, it can cause the jawbone to weaken, undermining the foundation of surrounding teeth. Besides tooth extraction, gum disease, infection, misaligned teeth, dentures, bridges, sinus issues, and trauma can also cause weakening of the jawbone. Dental implants for missing teeth can help prevent further deterioration. A dental implant is a titanium screw that is inserted into the place of the missing root, topped by a ceramic crown.
The titanium screws are coated with a bone-growth stimulator that promotes bonding between the bone and the implant. The body thinks an implant is a tooth, and bone will grow around and conform to the shape of the new metal “root.” It forms a tight bond that is even sturdier than the original root. This way, implants can save you from losing more teeth, a big advantage over other dental prosthetics.
With bridges and dentures, bone can keep getting lost. You keep getting shrinkage. Dental Implants also look and feel like natural teeth, which is a big plus. Bone is elastic and able to expand and contract like a rubber band. When the implant is finally inserted, the bone clamps on to it like an elastic waistband around a waist.
If a patient’s jawbone has a deteriorated a lot, bone grafts may be needed before an implant can be placed.
Grafts can be done with either synthetic or natural bone and can be the best option when bone in the upper palette has eroded to the point that the sinus cavity shifts downward.
While for many people, implants still seem like a big deal to get, advancements in technique and technology have made placing some implants faster and easier. If the patient’s bone is in good condition, the dentist can place the titanium implant during the patient’s first visit. At a second visit, the dentist places the abutment—the piece that connects the crown to the root. At a third visit, the crown goes in.
The time between a first consult to walking out with a new tooth depends on the condition of the patient’s bone. For most patients who have implants placed on the bottom, it takes around three months, and for patients who have implants on the top, it takes about six months.
The wait time gives the bone a chance to adhere to the implant.
You don’t want any pressure on the implant, so it can integrate with the bone.
Although dental implants are now appropriate for many more people, if you have diabetes, take osteoporosis medication, or have had radiation therapy, you should talk to your dentist because these treatments can impair the ability of the bone to heal and may cause an implant to fail.
For more information on dental implants, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.