Dental implants are metal anchors implanted in the jawbone to hold replacement teeth in place. The “root” sits in the jawbone below the gumline and the visible tooth, or “crown,” is attached to it. Implants support crowns, bridges and dentures, and look and feel much like natural teeth.
Dental implants are an attractive option for patients who have lost one or more teeth, cannot chew or smile comfortably, or are not happy with dentures. To be considered for dental implants, you must be in good overall health and have strong gums and bones. You must follow excellent oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing and regular dental examinations. Patients with a high risk of developing periodontal (gum) disease, such as smokers and diabetics, may not be good candidates. Your dentist will review your oral health and take x-rays to determine your eligibility.
The first step in the dental implant process is surgery to place the anchor of the implant into the jawbone. The procedure may take an hour or two under local anesthesia or conscious sedation. You will then wait for the bone to heal firmly around the implant, which takes from six weeks to six months.
The metal post that attaches the tooth to the anchor may be placed during the same surgery or in a second procedure.
When the gums have healed, your artificial teeth will be made and fitted on the post. This often requires x-ray images, impressions, and bite registration records, so it may take several appointments over a few months to get your new teeth fitted properly.
Dental implants fit snugly in the mouth, allowing you to chew normally. They are cosmetically similar to natural teeth, so you can smile without being self-conscious. Implants also prevent decay in the jawbone that accompanies tooth loss.
Dental implant surgery is safer now than ever before. Nevertheless, as with any other surgery, some risks exist. These include complications from surgery, such as excessive bleeding and reaction to anesthesia. Your dentist will discuss the risks with you in greater detail.
Yes, dental implants look and feel much like natural teeth. Artificial teeth are constructed to mimic real ones, and implants are fused to your jawbone so they feel snug. Implants are often more comfortable and fit more securely than other replacement options.
The healthiest thing to do when you lose a tooth is have it replaced. Otherwise, you risk problems with biting, chewing and speaking, headaches, muscle pain and an unattractive appearance.
Veneers are very thin, tooth-colored shells that are custom-fit and bonded to the front sides of teeth to close gaps, cover stains and discolorations, and correct chipped or misshapen teeth to give you a bright, even, attractive smile.
Crowns are used to strengthen and improve the shape, size or color of teeth. They can support broken or weak teeth or those with large fillings; provide a smooth, strong, attractively contoured surface for stained, misshapen or otherwise abnormal teeth; and aid in the implantation of bridges and other implants.
Bridges (also called fixed partial dentures) are natural-looking tooth replacements which help maintain facial structure, reduce stress on the jaw and fill in the gaps caused by missing teeth.
Bridges may be made of porcelain, gold, alloys or a combination of these.
Removable bridges can be taken out and cleaned at home, but fixed bridges are implanted in the jaw and bonded to the teeth with crowns or caps and cannot be removed.
Bleaching products brighten teeth that have been stained or darkened by food, tobacco use, age, injury or other causes that cannot be corrected with regular brushing or professional cleaning. There are a variety of in-office and take-home whitening products to reduce or eliminate such stains. In-office bleaching, also called chairside bleaching, can be done in a one-hour appointment using the Zoom Whitening System.
A root canal is usually performed in a single office visit. Your dentist will make an opening in the tooth and into the pulp chamber, where the damaged pulp is removed. The canals of the tooth root are then cleaned and shaped to prepare for a filling material. The pulp chamber is usually filled with a biocompatible, rubber-like material called gutta-percha, which is cemented to the tooth with a sealer paste. The final step of the root canal procedure is to restore full function to the tooth by placing a crown, post or other restorative material.
Although many patients associate the root canal procedure with major pain and discomfort, it is usually not painful. Local anesthesia is used to numb the affected area, although it is sometimes not even needed since the nerve tissue is dead. However, anesthesia often helps patients relax and relieves any anxieties they may have.
Root canal is considered a highly successful treatment, with most patients experiencing complete relief from their symptoms. A crown or filling can usually help repair the appearance of the treated tooth so that other people won't even realize that a root canal was performed.
The results of a root canal procedure can be permanent, as long as the patient practices healthy teeth and gum habits and sees the dentist on a regular basis.