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Dental implants are replacements for missing teeth. They are very stable and can be made to look as good as or better than the teeth they replace. How do we do it? Here are seven frequently asked questions.
What are the parts of a dental implant?
The implant consists of a root, usually made of a titanium alloy, which extends below the gum tissue into the bone; and a crown, which emerges from the gum and resembles the crown of the original tooth.
Why is a dental implant so stable?
Titanium has a property of fusing with the bone of the jaw, so that it actually becomes part of the bony structure. The new implant's stability depends on having the needed volume of bone and gum tissue in the right position to anchor the implant.
How can you make sure I have enough bone?
When a tooth is lost, the bone in which it was anchored will resorb or melt away if care is not taken. It is important to minimize trauma during tooth removal to preserve bone tissue. If tissue has been lost it can be built up by bone grafting techniques.
What factors make a crown on an implant look real?
How real the crown looks depends on its shape, particularly as it emerges through the gum tissues, its color and its position relative to the teeth around it.
What is the emergence profile?
This term refers to the way the crown emerges through the gum tissue. It involves both the shape of the implant and how far it is placed into the gum and bone tissues.
How do you match the color of the crown?
We analyze your tooth color using shade guides and/or photography to provide the dental lab with as much information as possible to create the best color match. This is part of the artistry of reconstructive dentistry.
How will my gums look with my dental implant in place?
When people use the word “gums” they are often referring to the small pink triangles of tissue that fill in the spaces between teeth, called “papillae.” An implant must be placed at the correct distance from adjacent teeth and at the correct depth below the gum tissue for natural looking papillae to form.
You can see that success in matching of color, shape, and location of an implant is not simple and depends on the skill, artistry, and experience of your dental team.
If you've lost one or more of your teeth due to tooth decay, trauma, gum disease or a failed root canal, there are a variety of ways that our office can help you to restore your smile and increase your confidence. Crowns, conventional bridges and dentures aren't your only options for replacing missing teeth. Dental implants, surgically placed below the gums, are another alternative for replacing missing teeth.
Getting Started: If you would like to explore the option of having dental implants to replace one or more teeth, you will first need a comprehensive exam. The ideal candidate for implants is in good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support an implant. Smokers and those with uncontrolled chronic diseases like diabetes may not be good candidates for dental implants because healing may be impaired or slow. In addition, dental implants aren't appropriate for children or teens until their jaw growth is complete.
The Process: Dental implant surgery can be performed in our office using either a local or general anesthetic. The implants actually replace tooth roots; they are placed into the bone surgically. Generally made of commercially pure titanium, this metal has the remarkable ability to fuse with the bone as it heals forming a union known as osseointegration (“osseo” – bone; “integration” – to fuse with). This process takes two to six months depending upon many factors of which bone quality is the most important.
The next step is to place an abutment (a small connector) which attaches the implant to the crown. The crown is the part of the tooth that is normally seen in the mouth above the gums.
Assessment of your individual situation and deciding if dental implants are right for you takes knowledge and experience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding dental implants. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants: Options for Replacing Missing Teeth.”