A dental implant is actually a replacement for the root or roots of a tooth. Like tooth roots, dental implants are secured in the jawbone and are not visible once surgically placed. They are used to secure crowns (the parts of teeth seen in the mouth), bridgework or dentures by a variety of means. They are made of titanium, which is lightweight, strong and biocompatible, which means that it is not rejected by the body. Titanium and titanium alloys are the most widely used metals in both dental and other bone implants, such as orthopedic joint replacements. Dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device.
Titanium’s special property of fusing to bone, called osseointegration (“osseo” – bone;
“integration” – fusion or joining with), is the biological basis of dental implant success. That’s
because when teeth are lost, the bone that supported those teeth is lost too. Placing dental
implants stabilizes bone, preventing its loss. Along with replacing lost teeth, implants help
maintain the jawbone’s shape and density. This means they also support the facial skeleton
and, indirectly, the soft tissue structures — gum tissues, cheeks and lips. Dental implants help
you eat, chew, smile, talk and look completely natural. This functionality imparts social,
psychological and physical well-being.
When would someone need a dental implants
Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or all of the teeth. The goal
of teeth replacement is to restore function as well as esthetics.
When it comes to tooth replacement, generally, there are three options:
- Removable dental appliance (full denture or partial denture)
- Fixed dental bridge (cemented)
- Dental implant
Deciding on which option to choose depends on many factors. Specifically for dental implants,
these factors include:
- Location of missing tooth or teeth
- Quantity and quality of the jawbone where the dental implant is to be placed
- Health of the patient
- Patient preference
A dental surgeon examines the area to be considered for the dental implant and makes a
clinical assessment of whether the patient is a good candidate for a dental implant.
There are great advantages to choosing a dental implant for tooth replacement over the other
options. Dental implants are conservative in that missing teeth can be replaced without
affecting or altering the adjacent teeth. Furthermore, because dental implants integrate into
the bone structure, they are very stable and can have the look and feel of one's own teeth.