- What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a metal post that replaces the root of a missing tooth.
There are at least three components to a dental implant:
The post is a cylindrical screw that your Downey cosmetic dentist or an oral surgeon will implant into your jawbone.
The size of the post is dependent on the tooth it is replacing. A smaller post is used for front teeth, while a larger (in diameter) post replaces molars.
After some healing time, the implant will fuse with the jawbone. This is called osseointegration, which is a process that allows the implant to look and function almost exactly like a real tooth.
The number of implant posts placed into the jawbone depends on the type of implant prosthesis used. Your dentist will advise you on how many posts are necessary to support the chosen dental prosthesis.
A single implant requires only one post. Bridges typically require at least two posts. You will need four to six implant posts (per arch) for complete dentures.
An abutment is a connector piece that fits in between the dental implant post and the prosthetic. One end screws into the implant post, while the other adheres to the prosthetic.
There are two abutments – a healing abutment and a permanent one.
After osseointegration has occurred, your dentist or surgeon will make a small incision in your gum tissue to expose the top of the implant post. Then, they will screw the healing abutment into place. After about two weeks, your tissue will be healed, and you can proceed with getting the dental prosthesis and permanent metal abutment.
Abutments come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit the prosthetic. For example, a single-crown implant will have an abutment that looks like a short, thick screw. Conversely, implant-supported denture abutments have special attachments that allow the denture to snap onto the implant/abutment.
The dental prosthetic is the part of the implant that is visible and looks like a tooth. The prosthetic can be a dental crown (or multiple crowns), fixed bridge, partial denture, or complete denture.
Dental crowns replace a single missing tooth. Fixed bridges and partial dentures can also replace a single tooth or several missing teeth. A complete denture is necessary when a person is fully edentulous or is missing teeth on an entire arch.
Fixed bridges and dental crowns are cemented to the abutment. Dentures have special clips embedded in the acrylic that snap onto the implant abutments.
What Metals Are Used to Make Implants?
When developing something that is going to stay long-term in your mouth, dental researchers must find something that has dental biocompatibility, which is the physical influence of a restoration (like a dental implant) on your oral health.
The higher the biocompatibility, the better.
Most implant posts are made of titanium (or its alloys) because it has a high biocompatibility rating.
Some posts are coated with a substance called hydroxyapatite, a mineral found in bone and tooth structures. Coating the post helps it fuse more quickly and easily to the bone.
Dental prosthetics are made from various materials, including gold alloys, stainless steel, cobalt-chromium alloys, nickel-chromium alloys, resin, acrylic, and porcelain.
What If I Don’t Have Enough Bone for Downey Dental Implants?
Not all patients are good candidates for dental implants. One reason could be that they do not have enough bone.
However, there are some ways around that!
One of the most common solutions is bone grafting, which is a procedure that replaces lost bone.
During the procedure, a new piece of bone is placed where bone is needed to support an implant. The cells within the new bone seal themselves to the remaining jawbone.
Surgeons can also perform a procedure called sinus augmentation or sinus lift. This procedure lifts the lower Schneiderian membrane (which covers the sinus cavity), giving your dentist more room to place a bone graft.
Another option is a zygomatic implant fixture, which is an implant post that is longer and more angled than a traditional implant post. The fixture is implanted not only into the jawbone but also into the zygomatic (cheek) bones.
What Can I Expect at My Dental Implant Procedure?
A dental implant procedure often requires more than one appointment. Depending on your needs, you may need the following appointments:
Bone grafting/sinus augmentation
Implant post placement
Healing abutment placement
Depending on the techniques used by your Downey dentist (and your individual needs), some of these can be done at the same time.
For instance, the abutment might be placed at the same time as the dental implant post. In other scenarios, the post may be placed first. Then after osseointegration has occurred, a healing abutment is placed.
- Does a Missing Tooth Need to Be Replaced?
Replacing a missing tooth is crucial for the function of your teeth and jaw. This dental implant FAQ is vital as it relates to the maintenance of your overall oral health.
Of course, it contributes to aesthetics, too.
When you lose a tooth, adjacent teeth will shift to fill in the space. This movement changes the dynamic of how your teeth fit and work together. Instead of having a balanced bite, the shift can put more pressure on some teeth than others. The result is an increased risk of cracked, chipped teeth, sensitivity, and broken teeth.
The change in occlusion will also impact your jaw joints, putting excess pressure on the joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This can lead to a painful condition called TMJD or temporomandibular joint disorder.
Replacing a missing tooth helps ensure proper occlusion.
How Long Does It Take for Implants to Heal
It varies – usually an average of six to eight months for the bone and gum tissue to fully heal. The process can be longer if you have had a bone graft and/or sinus augmentation.
Your Downey Cosmetic Dentist Will Help You Choose the Best Path
Despite all the perks of dental implants, we understand that they are not the right option for every patient.
During your consultation, your Downey dentist will discuss your unique needs and whether you are a good candidate for implants. They will also take the time to answer any questions or concerns you have, along with reviewing all your treatment options.
We want you to feel confident when investing in your dental health. Your Downey dental implant consultation will give you all the information you need to feel happy with your choice.