What are dental implants?
Dental implants are state-of-the-art in replacement of missing teeth. They can be thought of as artificial "roots" to hold replacement teeth in the jaw. The "root" sits in the jawbone below the gum line and the visible tooth, or "crown," is attached to it. Implants support individual artificial teeth, bridges and dentures, and look and feel much like natural teeth.
Dental implants are an attractive option for patients who have lost one or more teeth, cannot chew or smile comfortably, or are not happy with dentures. To be considered for dental implants, you must be in good overall health and have strong gums and bones. You must follow excellent oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing and regular dental examinations. Patients with a high risk of developing periodontal (gum) disease, such as smokers and diabetics, may not be good candidates. Your dentist will review your oral health and take x-rays to determine your eligibility.
The first step is surgery to place the implant into the jawbone. You will then wait for the bone to heal firmly around the implant, which takes from six weeks to six months. The metal post that attaches the tooth to the implant may be placed during the same surgery or in a second procedure.
When the gums have healed, your artificial teeth will be made and fitted on the post. This often requires x-ray images, impressions, and bite registration records, so it may take several appointments to get your new teeth fitted properly.
Dental implants fit snugly in the mouth, allowing you to chew normally. They are cosmetically similar to natural teeth, so you can smile without being self-conscious. Implants also prevent decay in the jawbone that accompanies tooth loss. Nothing looks, feels or functions more like a natural tooth than a dental implant.
As with any other surgery, some risks exist for possible complications. Dr. Senft will discuss these risks with you in detail. However, it should be noted that dental implant surgery is safer now than ever before and has a success rate of 97%.
Will my teeth feel natural?
Yes, dental implants look and feel much like natural teeth. Artificial teeth are constructed to mimic real ones, and implants are fused to your jawbone so they feel snug. Implants are often more comfortable and fit more securely than other replacement options.