A dental implant is an artificial tooth root. It holds an artificial tooth, otherwise known as a crown. Before you recoil from false images of metal crowns, dental surgery and drills, consider these comforting facts.
Dentistry has come a long way since our grandparents plodded to the dentist for their root canals and extractions. It has certainly come a long way since medieval days when your local barber threw in a few extra services like applying leeches and pulling teeth.
Computers and lasers have changed dentistry out of sight. The pain and trauma is gone, replaced by comfort and beauty. A modern cosmetic dentist, in a friendly spa-like setting, can save your damaged teeth in many ways, using pearly-white porcelain that nobody but a dentist can distinguish from your real teeth. You can have all-porcelain crowns, veneers, inlays, and onlays – a mouthful of porcelain that looks, feels and functions like normal teeth.
Lost a tooth?
In the rare instance where a tooth cannot be saved, or in cases where a tooth is lost in an accident or trauma, not to worry – modern dentists can fill that gap and you’ll never have to wear a denture or put up with a bridge.
What if you don’t replace it?
They say Nature abhors a vacuum. In the dental world, teeth and bones abhor a gap. They will fill it somehow. A gap left by a lost tooth will invite neighboring teeth to move and fill it. A gap left by a lost tooth root will cause the jawbone to shrink inward and fill it.
Given a bit of time, you then have a dental nightmare scenario:
· Misaligned teeth
· A shrinking jawline, aging your facial shape
· Possibly a misaligned bite
A misaligned bite (malocclusion in dental language) can and usually does lead to a long list of painful symptoms known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD, or TMJ). Only a qualified neuromuscular dentist can diagnose and treat it successfully. If you can avoid developing TMD, please do!
How does a dental implant work?
The implant is a small titanium cylinder set into the jawbone gap, where the tooth root used to be. Titanium works well because bone easily grows close in around it and incorporates it as part of the jaw. When that bone growth and healing is complete, a tiny extension (abutment) is attached to the top of the implant, and a porcelain crown is cemented to it. Now you have a new tooth and improved dental health.
You can feast on any foods, and the implant itself requires no care, as it’s submerged in the bone. The crown requires the same daily brushing and flossing that your natural teeth require, and if you also visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleaning, you can expect to have this healthy new tooth for the rest of your life.
What if several teeth are missing?
One implant can hold two teeth, and you can have more than one implant. You could even attach an entire mouthful of new porcelain teeth to multiple implants. For that, you would need enough bone tissue, and your cosmetic dentist would be the one to decide how many implants would be possible or necessary. Read more details about dental implants.
The most important thing is not to delay your dental work. Whatever needs to be done can these days be done with minimal or no pain, far more quickly and pleasantly than in previous years. No good ever comes from dental delay, so make space in your busy schedule and contact your cosmetic dentist.