If you have missing or damaged teeth, but your gums and jawbone are healthy and you are otherwise in good health, dental implants may be the right choice for you. Dental implants are more like natural teeth than dentures. A dental implant looks like a cylinder or screw and it serves as an artificial replacement for the root of a missing tooth. Implants are made of titanium or other material that won’t cause an adverse reaction when they are attached to the jawbone and gum tissue.
The process of getting a dental implant takes several months to complete, and it involves these three phases:
- Placing the implant. First, you undergo surgery to have the implant placed in your jaw, where it is covered over with gum tissue and allowed to integrate into the jawbone for three to six months.
- Attaching the post. Your dentist attaches a post to the implant and the gum tissue is allowed to grow up around it. In some cases, the implant and post are placed simultaneously. Whether or not they are placed at the same time, the combination implant and post serves as an anchor for the replacement tooth.
- Crown attachment. Your dentist attaches a customized crown to the implant post.
The advantages to dental implants vs. dentures include a more natural ability to eat and speak, and there is no need to remove dentures or worry about denture repair. But it is important to see a dentist regularly to be sure your implants are in good condition and to follow a consistent oral care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing.