Dental implants are synthetic structures that occupy the area where the natural tooth previously existed. Implants are anchored within the jaw or to the bone atop the jaw. Dental implants can replace a single tooth, multiple teeth in the form of a permanent bridge, or even attach to dentures.
Dental implants are excellent replacements for natural teeth, but they're not right for every person. For an implant to hold successfully, a patient must have the correct bone density, healthy gums, and a healthy immune system. Additionally, only people who practice strict oral hygiene routines are good dental implant candidates.
Dental implants look nearly identical to the teeth they're replacing. Implants are customized based on the size, shape, and shade of the patient's own natural teeth. For this reason, dental implants blend in very well with natural teeth, and most people are unable to spot the difference.
Dental implants are made of very durable metals, typically titanium or a titanium-based alloy. Titanium is such a good choice for dental implants because it's biocompatible, which means that it integrates with the body extremely effectively. Both the dental implant base and the teeth are titanium or titanium alloy, while the visible part of the tooth is a porcelain crown.
Surgery is needed to prepare the mouth for dental implants and to implant the anchors. Most patients will have 2-3 different appointments during the dental implant process. After the first surgery, the patient must wait until the bone tissue builds up to anchor the implant base firmly. Once this occurs, a metal post may be placed to connect the tooth, as some dental implants now have the base and post all in one. The replacement tooth (with a crown attached) is attached to the post, and the dental implant process is complete. During all dental implant surgeries, patients receive anesthesia to make the process more comfortable. If needed, antibiotics will be prescribed to help prevent infection following dental implant surgery.
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