Dental Implants

Permanent Replacements for Stability and Beauty

By Katherine Ladny Mitchell

Dental implants are titanium replacements of tooth roots that can provide a secure foundation for artificial teeth. However, the term “dental implants” is most commonly used to refer to dental implants paired with permanent artificial teeth.

Unlike dentures, which may slip around in the mouth and require adhesives, dental implants paired with permanent artificial teeth offer stability and convenience similar to the functioning of natural teeth. While dentures and fixed-bridges may need to be replaced after about five years, dental implants paired with permanent artificial teeth can enhance a smile’s appearance, restore natural chewing and improve speaking for a lifetime with proper care.

Over the last twenty years, many different types of dental implants have been placed. Today, the most common kind of implants are called endosteal implants. Endosteal implants are titanium implants that are surgically placed directly into the jawbone. After the implant integrates with the jawbone, a portion of the implant will protrude out of the gums. This will allow a restorative dentist to attach a crown or denture to replace the missing teeth.

Dental implants and artificial teeth is a constructive process that requires both time and expertise. Usually, a team of professionals specially trained and experienced in oral surgery and/or restorative dentistry will perform examinations and take X-rays to develop an individualized treatment plan for the patient. Preliminary bone grafting may be necessary to reinforce jaws that aren’t strong enough to support an implant.

During a first procedure, a surgeon prepares the jawbone and inserts the titanium root replacement. As the jaw heals over several months, it secures the implant into place, providing a strong base for the upcoming abutment—a small metal post that helps screw artificial teeth into place. Once the patient’s gums have healed around the abutment (inserted during a second procedure), a dentist or specialist can take impressions of the patient’s mouth and create a new crown, bridge or other tooth replacements. The last step is to insert the new, artificial teeth. According to the Cleveland Clinic, dental implants have about a 97 percent success rate. With regular brushing, flossing and dental visits, dental implants can restore a smile’s natural appearance and function for a lifetime.