The next best thing to your own tooth
If you are missing a tooth, there are plenty of reasons to replace it:
- A gap between your teeth, if obvious when you smile or speak, is a cosmetic concern.
- Missing teeth may affect your speech.
- When a tooth is removed, the biting force on the remaining teeth begins to change. As the bite changes to compensate for the lost tooth, there is a risk of extra pressure and discomfort on the jaw joints, which may lead to temporomandibular disorder, also known as TMD.
- If a missing tooth is not replaced, the surrounding teeth can shift. Harmful plaque and tartar can collect in new hard-to-reach places created by the shifting teeth. Over time, this may lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease.
- Bone loss can occur in the region of the missing tooth.
One option for replacing a missing tooth is with a dental implant. Implants have been used for more than a quarter century. They are man-made cylinders that are surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw where they function as a sturdy anchor for replacement teeth. Implants are made of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body. The single tooth implant replaces the missing tooth’s roots.
The Next Best Thing to the Real Thing
An implant looks and feels like a natural tooth. It fits securely when you chew and speak. A single tooth implant is a freestanding unit and does not involve treatment to the adjacent teeth. With a dental implant, if the surrounding teeth are healthy, they can remain untouched, and their strength and integrity may be maintained. The implant can stabilize your bite and help prevent problems with the jaw (TMD).
The placement of an implant generally is a three-part process that takes several months. Your dentist may provide the treatment or you may be referred to a specialist, such as a periodontist, prosthodontist or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for all or part of the treatment.
IN THE FIRST STEP, the dentist surgically places the implant into the jaw, with the top of the implant slightly above the top of the bone. A screw is inserted into the implant to prevent gum tissue and other debris from entering. The gum is then secured over the implant, where it will remain covered for approximately three to six months while the implant fuses with the bone, a process called osseointegration. There may be some swelling and/or tenderness for a few days after the surgery, so pain medication is usually prescribed to alleviate the discomfort. Your dentist may recommend a diet of soft foods, cold foods and warm soup during the healing process.
IN THE SECOND STEP, the implant is uncovered and the dentist attaches an extension, called an abutment, to the implant. The gum tissue is allowed to heal around the abutment. Once healed, the implant and post can now serve as the foundation for your new tooth.
IN THE THIRD AND FINAL STEP, the dentist makes a custom artificial tooth, called a crown, based on a size, shape, color and fit that will blend with your teeth. Once completed, the crown is attached to the implant abutment.
WHO IS A CANDIDATE? If you are in good general health, with healthy gums and a jawbone that can support an implant, this treatment may be an option for you. In fact, your health is more of a factor than your age. Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or leukemia, may interfere with healing after surgery. And if you use tobacco, you are at greater risk for gum disease, which can weaken the bone and tissues needed to support the implant.
Meticulous oral hygiene is critical to the success of the implant. You’ll need to spend a little more time caring for the implant and making sure the area surrounding it is particularly clean. If your overall health is good and your teeth and gums are in good shape, your dentist can evaluate and determine if you are a suitable for a dental implant.
Regular dental visits are essential to the life and long-term success of your implant. Some patients are scheduled for professional cleanings two to four times per year. Your dentist will provide you with a dental recall program to ensure the health of your implant and your natural teeth.
Your dentist will suggest a home care routine to suit your needs, which will include brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. You may also be advised to use a special toothbrush, an interproximal brush, or a mouth rinse to help prevent cavities and periodontal disease. Contact Stones Family Dental, your local Salem dentist to make an appointment today!
Information provided by ADA American Dental Association.