You can get the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted, by getting a dental implant. A dental implant is a fake porcelain tooth, called a crown, that’s fitted atop a small metal rod which has been inserted into a patients jaw bone.
You can use implants to replace a single missing tooth, but if you are missing several teeth, you can also use them to anchor a bridge or a partial permanent denture in your mouth.
Worried about the safety of implants? Want to learn more? Check out answers to commonly asked questions.
Getting implants is a relatively lengthy process. During the initial consultation, the dentist will examine your mouth, look at the health of your jaw bone and determine if you are a good candidate for implants. Then, he or she will make a mold of your mouth and a lab will use it to create the crown. If you need to have any teeth extracted, that will also happen in one of the early appointments.
Once your gums have healed from the tooth extractions, the dentist will fit in the small metal rod. After this surgery, your gums and jaw bone will be allowed to heal. During this time, the metal rod will ossify to your bone. That takes anywhere from four to six months. It varies based on the location of the implant and your personal body's timeline.
In most cases, the metal rod used for dental implants is made of titanium or a titanium alloy. If you have a metal allergy, you should ask your dentist about any other metals in the alloy so you can ensure they are safe for your mouth.
If you are allergic to titanium, you may want to look into zirconia implants. These implants have been available in the United States since 2011, and they made from a special type of ceramic material.
According to the American Association of Dental Implants, the procedure for getting implants is one of the safest types of dental procedures. The process is very predictable, and when completed by an experienced professional, there is nothing to worry about.
If you are missing a tooth and you're not worried about it for aesthetic reasons, it may be tempting to just leave that space. However, a gap can actually lead to other oral issues in the future. When your mouth is missing a tooth, the other teeth begin to shift in that direction. They naturally want to fill the space, and this shifting can lead to issues with your bite.
Additionally, food and debris may accumulate in the missing space. That can increase the presence of bacteria in your mouth, potentially leading to more cavities or decay. Excess bacteria is also linked to bad breath.
Dental implants aren't the right option for every patient, but luckily, there are alternatives. If your tooth is not missing yet and it has enough of its original structure in place, you may be able to keep the tooth and have the dentist place a crown on top of it. This is the same type of crown that is put on a metal implant rod, but it's just fitted over your teeth.
If you are missing several teeth, you may want to opt for removable dentures. If you prefer a more permanent solution, a bridge that is anchored to healthy teeth rather than to implants may also be something to consider.
Ready to learn more about implants? Curious to see if you're a good candidate? Then, contact us at Dr. M. Dawn Harvey, DMD, PC, to set up your consultation today.