A dental implant is much like a natural tooth which has rooted in your jawbone, topped by a crown that you can see. When you need an implant, your dentist inserts a metal post beneath your gum and into the bone. It fuses to the bone in your jaw and acts like the root of a tooth. Then Dr. Schnall makes a replacement crown on the metal post designed to blend in with the way your own teeth look and feel. Dental implants also may be used to anchor dentures.
Most patients find that an implant is secure and stable—a good replacement for their own tooth. Implants, however, are not an option for everyone. Because implants require surgery, patients should be in good health overall and have healthy gums. Further, patients either must have adequate bone to support the implant, or be good candidates for surgery to build up the area needing the implant. Patients also should be committed to very thorough oral hygiene every day, and regular dental visits. If you are considering implants, a full evaluation by Dr. Schnall will help determine if you would be a good candidate.
Advantages of Implants
- An implant is most similar to a natural tooth
- Adjacent teeth do not have to be involved in the placement procedure
- Implants may decrease or help prevent shrinkage of the jawbone from tooth loss
- Implants are not intended for everyone
- Implant placement takes longer and may require more dental visits than alternative procedures
What is involved in placing implants?
First, surgery is performed to place the implant. Up to six months may be required for the bone to grow around the implant to firmly hold it in place. In certain cases, we may use techniques that may allow immediate use of the implant. Most implants require a simple second procedure where the top of the implant is exposed and a healing cap is placed. This shapes and prepares the gums for the next step of fabricating a post that will connect with the replacement teeth. With other implants, the implant and post is one unit placed in the mouth during the initial surgery.
After healing, the next step is begun. The replacement tooth is made and fitted to the post portion of the implant. Because several fittings may be required, this step may take one month or longer to complete.
Dental implants can provide replacement teeth that look natural and feel secure, and also can be used to support complete or partial dentures. It is possible to stabilize dentures and eliminate the need to remove them each day.