A dental implant is a permanent and natural-looking replacement for a missing tooth. It is composed of a titanium post that’s implanted into the jawbone to serve as the tooth’s root, and topped with a tooth-shaped crown, made of ceramic or porcelain. Today crowns are so perfectly contoured and color-matched to a patient’s natural teeth, that is hard to visibly discern any difference between the two. The titanium post over time fuses naturally with the patient’s jaw bone, a process known as osseointegration. Implant surgery can replace one or more teeth provided there is sufficient bone to support the implants.
For most people, the process involves three visits to the dentist. During the initial appointment, the post is implanted into the jawbone. The next appointment is scheduled a couple of weeks later to allow the titanium to fuse with the jawbone. The fusing process provides a stable foundation, and because it is stimulating bone growth, the soft tissues of the face and mouth stay intact. Bone loss that can accompany the loss of a tooth is significantly reduced. During the second appointment, an abutment is installed. An abutment is a connector that is placed on the post to connect the prosthetic tooth. Next, an impression of the gap and surrounding teeth is made, from which the prosthetic tooth is crafted, usually out of porcelain. At the last appointment, the prosthetic tooth is connected via the abutment and buffed until smooth.
A dental implant should be strong and stable for a lifetime, provided the patient takes care of it and practices good dental hygiene. These devices are truly designed to replace a tooth permanently.
Implants require the same care as your natural teeth, twice daily brushings, daily flossing and regular dental cleanings and checkups.
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