Dental Implants - More than just appearance consideration

Implant dentistry has become so common that it has evolved into a vital component in mainstream dental practices. All over the world, more and more people request having dental implants. Unlike false teeth, which merely act as fillers and assist in presenting a wholesome appearance, dental implants have a more vital role to play in the entire structure of the jaw.

Dental implants are fixed in the jaw permanently and are the closest you can get to natural teeth. When a tooth is lost, the resulting gap leads to a slow change in the physiology of the face. Imperceptibly, bone is lost and the surrounding teeth start spreading themselves to accommodate the vacant space, thus widening the gap between existing teeth. Opposing teeth also over-erupt into existing spaces. This not only leads to a changed appearance but also causes bite problems.

By opting for implants, this process is effectively arrested. They allow people to chew without problems, thus allowing them to eat foods that were otherwise difficult to chew, enables proper digestion and ensures good health. Of course, the aesthetic aspect also has a lot of impact. With dental implants, you look younger and feel more self confident. Since you do not have to worry about loose false teeth, you feel as if you are carrying real teeth.

What is inolved in Getting a Dental Implant?

The first step in the dental implant process is the development of an individualized treatment plan. The plan addresses your specific needs and is prepared by a team of professionals who are specially trained and experienced in oral surgery and restorative dentistry. This team approach provides coordinated care based on the implant option that is best for you.

Next, the tooth root implant, which is a small post made of titanium, is placed into the bone socket of the missing tooth. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implanted metal post, anchoring it securely in the jaw. The healing process can take from six to 12 weeks.

Once the implant has bonded to the jawbone, a small connector post -- called an abutment -- is attached to the post to securely hold the new tooth. To make the new tooth or teeth, your dentist makes impressions of your teeth, and creates a model of your bite (which captures all of your teeth, their type, and arrangement). The new tooth or teeth is based on this model. A replacement tooth, called a crown, is then attached to the abutment.

Generally, having a dental implant placed is less painful than having a tooth removed.

Dr Hartshorne, Dental Surgeon Intercare Tyger Valley, Visiting Professor at the Department of Periodontics, University of Pretoria & member of International Team for Implantology’s, Centre of Excellence at the University of Pretoria.

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