Permanent teeth only grow twice in a lifetime, and after the second permanent teeth is out, you’ll be left with a missing tooth, which, depending on where the missing tooth is, can lower a person’s confidence when smiling and pose minor challenges in speaking and eating. This is especially confidence lowering for people who spend much time in front of many people, like public speakers.
This is where Dental Implants come into play. Dental Implants are replacement teeth that are invulnerable to bacteria and decay and function exactly like your natural teeth, and when properly cared for, they can last a lifetime. They’re composed of a titanium post which acts as an artificial tooth root, an abutment, which holds the artificial tooth called a crown, and the crown itself.
The best candidates for dental implants are those who have no pre-existing periodontal or oral disease. Your jawbone also needs to be thick and hard enough to support the titanium post that will hold the teeth in place. Otherwise, bone grafting might be needed prior to the implant surgery to add strength to your jawbone. When the bone graft has been placed, the patient will need to wait several months for the graft to fuse with the jawbone and for new bone to be made.
Dental Implant procedures are handled by Maxillofacial Surgeons who specialize in facial surgery. They’ll need to have the patient sedated for the whole procedure. Anesthesia is also applied to the area where the implant will be in. The gums are peeled back to reveal your jawbone. A hole is then drilled into your jawbone. The titanium post which will act as an artificial tooth root will go in the hole. You won’t be getting the crown right away though, as you will need to wait about 6 months for the titanium post to fuse with your bone in a process called Osseointegration. For the meantime, you may get a crown or bridge if you so desire. Once the post has fully fused with your jawbone, you will get the abutment which goes on top of the titanium post. The crown then goes onto the abutment.
Crowns and Bridges
Crowns and bridges are a more affordable alternative to dental implants. Crowns are “caps” that go on top of decayed or damaged teeth. This helps them restore their natural look and function. Bridges perform a similar function but instead of going on top of damage teeth, they’re placed where missing teeth are and are anchored to neighboring teeth. Crowns can also be used to work with bridges and dental implants.
Modern crowns are typically made with porcelain and are used when cavity has damaged a tooth to the point that a filling isn’t enough to restore a tooth. Metals like gold alloys can be used as well albeit not having the natural look that porcelain has. Porcelain crowns can improve upon the look of the original tooth and be used to cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment.
Bridges need a minimum of three crowns, two of which, called abutment teeth, will hold the crown in the middle. The two abutment teeth are placed on top of natural teeth. Before they are placed, some of the natural teeth will be trimmed away to make space for the abutment teeth.
Dentures (Complete and Partial)
Dentures are removable replacements to missing teeth, although they don’t just replace a few teeth. They’re usually made to fill in all your teeth (complete) or a set of consecutive teeth (partial). They can also be identified as Conventional, Immediate and overdentures. Conventional dentures are placed after all the teeth have been removed and the gums are allowed to heal, which could take a few months. Immediate dentures are placed on the same day the teeth are removed. Measurements are taken on an initial visit for these dentures. When your gums have completely healed, the dentures may need to be remade or relined. Overdentures are used when the patient still has a few teeth that can be saved. Overdentures fit over these small number of remaining teeth, which are helpful for preserving the jawbone.
Dentures may feel awkward at first use and may feel loose until you get used to them and until your gums and cheeks learn to keep them in place. Irritation and soreness may be felt for a few days to a few weeks after you get them.