If you need to replace one or more teeth, dental implants may be suitable. A dental implant not only replaces the crown of a tooth; it also replaces the dental root.
A dental implant is a surgically installed device that rests inside the jawbone of the patient. The implant, which is a rod or screw that is fashioned from titanium, is biocompatible so there is little chance of the body rejecting it as foreign. Once the implant has been installed inside the jawbone, it fuses with the bone through a process called osseointegration. The connecting of the jawbone to the dental implants usually takes about two to four months to complete. For a single tooth restoration, once the implant is firmly in place, an abutment and crown can be added. However, dental implants can also help restore multiple missing teeth in the mouth by acting as a support for other teeth-replacement appliances. Here are two dental appliances that can be affixed to dental implants:
A dental implant can be used to support a denture.
Conventional dentures are held in place by the natural suction of the mouth, but implant-supported dentures can also be selected.
An implant-supported denture has a special connecting device on the underside of the appliance. The device can attach to dental implants to secure the dentures in place, so that they don't slip or move when the patient eats or speaks. Still, the patient can disconnect the denture from the implants whenever he or she desires. Thus, the dentures remain removable.
Implant-secured Fixed Dental Bridges
A dental implant can also secure a dental bridge in the mouth of a patient.
A dental bridge includes a dental crown on each end of the appliance with one or more false teeth in the center of the bridge. For patients who desire to have their replacement teeth permanently locked into place, a dental bridge may be a suitable option. When natural teeth are not available to border a gap left by missing teeth, fixed dental bridges can be connected to dental implants.
Once the bridge crowns are connected to the dental implants, the bridge remains in the patient's mouth and can only be removed by a dental professional. The connection is considered permanent. Chewing capabilities are fully restored, and the appearance of the appliance is difficult to discern from that of natural teeth.
If you are interested in having multiple teeth replaced, consult a dentist in your area. He or she can help you determine whether or not a dental implant-supported appliance is the best tooth replacement option for you.