What Are Dental Implants?

If you’re missing one or more of your natural teeth and want to replace them, you’re probably focusing, in pretty much equal parts, about how much better your smile will look and how much easier it will be to eat delicious, varied foods. If you’ve tried removable, temporary dental restorations, like dentures, you’ve dealt with their inconveniences and the discomfort they can cause, or maybe you’re simply familiar with these drawbacks because you’ve heard about them or even witnessed them. Removable dentures are prone to slipping and rubbing on the gum tissue, and they must be removed for overnight cleaning and soaking, which can be inconvenient and awkward; these are just some of the failings of removable dental restorations. Dental implants, on the other hand, are a permanent dental restoration that replaces missing teeth with prosthetic teeth that are supported by surgically implanted fixtures, creating teeth that look, feel, and function just like natural, healthy teeth.

There are two main categories of dental implants, but the most widely used type is the endosteal implant. An endosteal implant relies on a tiny cylindrical post that is surgically implanted into the bone, which bonds with the implant as it heals, to support a prosthetic tooth or row of teeth. Implants are made of highly biocompatible material, like titanium, which is unique in its ability to attract healthy bone tissue and form an artificial version of a tooth root. While the bone heals, care instructions should be explicitly followed to avoid complications and reduce the possibility of implant failure. Once the bone has completely healed and the implant is fully integrated, which takes a few months but is vital to the overall success of the implant, the top of the implant is exposed and the dental crown or other prosthetic is attached to an attachment abutment at the implant’s apex. The gum tissue heals around the base of the prosthetic, which is made of ceramic material that matches the surrounding teeth, creating a lifelike restored tooth or row of teeth that effectively bears the tasks of chewing and biting while improving the appearance of the smile.

Subperiosteal dental implants rest atop the jawbone, immediately under the gums, and were initially designed for patients with insufficient bone mass in the jaw and patients with jaw deformities or other clinical impediments. Thanks to advances in bone grafting, implant design, and imaging technologies, however, subperiosteal implants are rarely used anymore. If you’re not a good candidate for endosteal implants, or if you have limitations and preferences that make endosteal implants a bad idea, subperiosteal implants could still be an option, so ask your dentist as you’re consulting for your dental restoration treatment. No matter what type of dental implants you decide on, with the proper care and attention, you can expect your new teeth to last a lifetime. Dental implants can be taken care of just like the natural teeth, with twice-daily brushing and daily flossing paired with regular visits to the dentist for checkups and professional cleanings, which only adds to their convenience and appeal.

Dental Implants vs Dental Bridges