Dental implants are an effective long-term option to replace a missing tooth or many missing teeth. Implants are posts made of biologically friendly titanium that are placed in the upper or lower jaw. The implant acts like an anchor, much like the root of a natural tooth. A post is placed on the implant, and then a crown is attached to the post. To summarize the simplest case, replacing a single tooth with an implant involves 3 pieces. The implant is placed in the bone as an anchor, a post is secured to the implant sticking above the gum tissue, and finally the crown is cemented to the post to replace the tooth.
There are three phases to getting an implant:
--First, the implant is surgically placed into the bone. If a diseased tooth has to be removed first, the implant can sometimes be placed immediately after the tooth is removed. Other times the bone has to heal before the implant can be placed. In certain cases, when the bone support is insufficient, a bone graft has to be placed before the implant can be inserted.
--Next is the healing phase. Bone grows around the implant and holds it in place. This can take anywhere from three months to a year. This healing process is called osseointegration. The quality and quantity of bone and the location of the tooth being replaced all determine if the replacement tooth can be placed right away or if the full healing time is needed before replacement.
--Lastly, the artificial tooth (crown) can be placed. An impression is usually taken and sent to a lab where the artificial tooth is made. This will be a crown if replacing a single tooth or a bridge or denture if replacing multiple teeth. Before the crown can be placed on the implant, a post is secured to the implant, which rises above the gum tissue and provides a solid structure to retain the crown, bridge, or denture.
If you are interested in discussing the option of an implant or have questions about implants, please call our office at (937) 434-8870 to set up an appointment. Some medications and health issues may require consultation with your physician to determine your ability to have an implant placed. In most cases though, implants are a viable option that restore patients’ ability to function.