Dental implants are artificial tooth replacements used to counter tooth loss. The procedure is categorized as a form of prosthetic dentistry, though it also falls into the category of cosmetic dentistry as well.
While you have several restorative options for the treatment of missing teeth, none have proven to be as functionally effective and durable as implants. In many cases, dental implants may be the only logical choice for the restoration of all necessary functionality of the teeth and supporting structures.
The Dental Implants Procedure
Today’s dental implants are virtually indistinguishable from other teeth. This is aided in part by the structural and functional connection between the dental implant and the living bone. Implants are typically placed in a single sitting but require a period of osseointegration, which can take as long as six months. Once the implants have fully healed, your dentist can complete the procedure with the placement of a crown. However, if osseointegration does not occur, the implant will fail.
Preparing the Jaw for Implantation
A dental implant is commonly composed of a titanium material screw and a crown. A small-diameter hole is drilled in order to guide the titanium screw that holds a dental implant in place. To avoid damaging vital jaw and face structures like the inferior alveolar nerve in the lower jaw, a dentist must use great skill and expertise when boring the pilot hole and sizing the jaw bone.
Placement of the Implant
After the initial pilot hole has been drilled into the appropriate jaw site, it is slowly widened to allow for placement of the implant screw. Following this placement, a protective cover screw is placed on top to allow the implant site to heal and the dental implant to anchor. After several months, the protective cover is removed and a temporary crown is placed on top of the dental implant. The temporary crown serves as a template around which the gum grows and shapes itself in a natural way.