Before the development of dental implants, dentures were the only alternative to replacing a missing tooth or teeth. Implants are synthetic structures that are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by the root. They are anchored to the jawbone or metal framework on the bone and act as a foundation for an artificial tooth or permanent bridge. In some cases, implants can be used to attach dentures.Implants are so well designed that they mimic the look and feel of natural teeth; this is because they are usually made of a synthetic yet biocompatible material like metal or ceramic.
Surgery is necessary to prepare the area for an implant and place the implant in the mouth. Because implants require surgery, patients are administered anesthesia before the procedure. Following the procedure, a period of time is required for the implant to take hold and for bone tissue to build up and anchor the device; you may be given a prescription for antibiotics to stave off infection as you heal.In addition, in some cases, metal posts are inserted into the implant during a follow-up procedure to connect the tooth.
Not everyone is a candidate for a dental implant, however. For a successful implant to take hold, a candidate must have proper bone density and have a strong immune system. In all cases, dental implants require strict oral hygiene.
Replacement teeth supported by dental implants function so well and last so long because, like natural teeth, they are securely anchored in the jawbone for maximum support. In order to benefit from this remarkable technology, however, you need to have enough tooth-supporting bone in your jaw to hold a dental implant in place. Unfortunately, after tooth loss, the surrounding bone almost always deteriorates — decreasing in width, height, and density — and this process starts immediately. The longer a tooth has been missing, the more the bone that used to surround it resorbs (melts away). If you want a dental implant but don’t have enough bone to support it, can anything be done? Yes. Very often you can still get the replacement tooth you want, thanks to routine bone grafting procedures.
Bone grafting, normally a minor surgical procedure done in the dental office, is used to build up new bone in the area of your jaw that used to hold teeth. A small incision is made in your gum to expose the bone beneath it, and then grafting material is added. Most often, the grafting material is processed bone that serves as a scaffold, around which your body will actually deposit new bone cells. The grafting material will eventually be absorbed by your body and replaced by your own new bone.