Dental implants are permanent false teeth designed to look just like your other teeth.
They’re a popular alternative to dentures or bridges, and the American Dental Association considers them to be “one of the biggest advances in dentistry in the past 40 years.”
Unlike dentures and bridges, which don’t feel or look entirely real and must be removed and cleaned outside of your mouth daily, dental implants are surgically affixed to your jaw. In place of the roots your native teeth have, the new tooth is held in place by a surgical screw. The crown is carefully selected to match the shape and color of the surrounding teeth, so it blends right in.
There are two basic types of implant: endosteal and subperiosteal. Endosteal implants are surgically attached directly to the jaw bone with a titanium post, and the entire implant structure (apart from the crown itself) is hidden under the gums and looks and feels just like any other tooth. Subperiosteal implants consist of a metal frame that fits onto the jaw bone rather than screwing into it, and these are a good option if you lack the bone structure necessary for endosteal implants.
Watch the video below to see how titanium implants are made:
If you’ve lost teeth due to injury or disease, dental implants could restore your smile more effectively than other options. However, not everyone with missing teeth is a candidate. Just as with real teeth, oral health is crucial to successful implants. Before you get an implant, you need good, strong bone and healthy gums to support it, and once it’s in, you have to keep it clean by brushing and flossing.
If you don’t already have your implants but need orthodontics to straighten your teeth, it’s usually best to do braces first. Because implants are screwed into your jaw bone, they will not move, which can make them excellent anchors to help move your other teeth where they need to go—but only if they’re in the right place to begin with. If not, your existing implants may need to be removed and then reattached after you’ve finished with your braces.
If you’re thinking about getting dental implants or know someone who is, we can answer any questions you may have about them. We’re here to help you achieve the smile of your dreams!
Top image by Flickr user Sharon Mollerus used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.