Many patients choose implants to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or to support a full set of dentures. Implants are posts that are surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw, where they function as a sturdy anchor for replacement teeth. They are made of titanium (a strong, lightweight metal) and other materials that are accepted by the human body.
Most patients find that an implant is secure and stable, a good replacement for their own tooth. However, implants are not an option for everyone. Because implants require surgery, patients should be in good health overall. Patients either must have adequate bone to support the implant, or be able to have surgery to build up the area needing the implant. Patients also should be ready to commit to a daily oral care routine and to regular dental visits.
Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or leukemia, may slow healing after surgery. Patients with these issues may not be good candidates for implants. Using tobacco can also slow healing. Your dentist can help you decide whether implant treatment is a good option for you.
There are many different kinds of implants. Treatment can take only one day, or it can take several months, or somewhere in between. Your dentist can outline a treatment plan that is most likely to be successful for you.
There are three general phases of implant treatment:
Mini implants consist of an implant that acts like the root of the tooth (the head is shaped like a ball). The retaining fixtures in the denture act like a socket and contain a rubber o-ring. The o-ring snaps over the ball and holds the denture in place.
This implant is used in patients missing a single tooth. An implant is surgically placed into an opening in the jawbone. After the implant adheres itself to the bone, a crown is placed over the implant.