Dental implants are the treatment of choice for missing teeth. They look, feel, and function just like natural teeth, and they prevent the bone loss that always follows losing a tooth. In addition, they can be used to replace just one tooth or to support a whole arch of teeth.
An Explanation of Dental Implants
As shown in the implant illustration to the right, a dental implant is a tooth root form that is surgically placed in the jaw. It replaces the root of the tooth, and in doing so, signals your body to bring in more bone-building minerals to encase the form. So during the healing process, the form is integrated with your jawbone and becomes stable enough to support a crown. The crown is then created to match the color and character of your other teeth, and the result is that no one will be able to tell it’s not one of your own teeth.
If you have more than one missing tooth, you don’t necessarily need an implant to replace every one of them. In fact, just a few implants can support a complete denture arch. And implant overdentures, also called implant-supported dentures, have a lot of advantages over simple removable dentures. They secure the dentures, so chewing efficiency, speech, and eating enjoyment are improved. In addition, the dentures will not slip at embarrassing moments. And finally, because the implants act just like tooth roots, they signal the body that the jawbone is still necessary, preventing the inevitable bone loss that follows tooth loss.
This last advantage is very important over the long term. When we lose a tooth or teeth, the body interprets the lack of tooth roots as a go-ahead to dissolve that part of the jawbone so it can use those bone-building minerals elsewhere in the body. When we have lost all our teeth, the result is that over a period of just ten or twenty years, we can lose so much bone structure that it is impossible to support a denture, and we are faced with facial collapse.
Facial collapse is the characteristic shrunken appearance we associate with the old age, but it can make us look old before we truly are, as shown in the illustration to the left. It’s more than just an aesthetic condition, though, because once we loose enough bone structure, there is nothing left to support dentures, and it can become very difficult to chew solid foods, which can put us at risk for more serious health consequences.
What is Implant Treatment Like?
The two phases of this treatment include first, the surgical placement of the root forms. They’ll be covered with temporary crowns while they heal and integrate the forms into the jawbone. Then the final porcelain crowns will be placed. Whether you are receiving just one dental implant or implant-supported dentures, your treatment will provide you with years of comfortable function.
If you would like to learn more about implant-supported dentures, please click here to read our Implant Overdentures page. Then if you are ready to find out what implants could do for you, give us a call or click here to fill out our Request an Appointment form online. We’ll be happy to help you find a time for your visit that really works for you.
Dr. Davis also offers a free consultation, so if you’re not ready to commit to a complete exam and would just like to meet him to see if you’re a candidate for implants, let us know.