Dental implants

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If you have missing teeth, did you know that you are losing bone?

Losing one or more of your teeth starts a chain of events that can have dire physical and cosmetic consequences. The most obvious result is a gap in your smile. Less obvious result is loss of chewing function and the inability to eat a complete diet. While these are serious issues, a potentially bigger problem lies hidden beneath the surface: bone loss.

Without the tooth to stimulate the jaw, the bone beneath the gum tissue will begin to disintegrate or atrophy. Since your facial bone supports the skin and muscle on top of it, losing volume can cause your face to look prematurely aged. The good news is that dental implants offer a solution to stop bone loss.

Tooth replacement options

Conventional treatment options for tooth replacement, Crown and Bridge and full or partial dentures, address the short-term cosmetic problem of the missing teeth, but do nothing to stop the bone loss.Crown and Bridge also requires that two or more healthy teeth be ground down to serve as abutments or anchorage for a bridge. If the original abutments fail then more teeth must be sacrificed to serve as anchors, while you continue to lose the bone beneath the bridge.

However, with implants, the healthy teeth are left alone. Plus, dental implants, like natural teeth, transmit chewing forces to the jaw, stimulating it and halting the bone loss. This is why many leading dental organizations recognize dental implants as the standard of care for tooth replacement.

Who is a candidate for dental implants?

Dental implants can be placed in most adults who are in good to moderate health. They are not typically placed in adolescents until they have reached their full expected height.

What to expect?

Implant placement can be broken down into four phases: treatment planning, implant placement, crown placement, and hygiene maintenance. Your doctor will take x-rays and create a model of your existing teeth to determine how the implant should be placed. Occasionally, a bone or gum tissue graft will be needed to provide an adequate site for placement.

The implant is then placed in the bone and given a period of time to heal or osseointegrate before attachment of the crown. The final crown is usually placed 3-6 months after initial placement.

Maintaining your dental hygiene is the most important role you will play in the long-term success of your implant. Your doctor will give you specific instructions for brushing and flossing the area and put you on a regular check-up cycle. Given proper care, dental implants can give a lifetime of satisfaction.

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